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As He Was in Life, So He was in Death

In order to help the church in her struggle against sin, believers throughout church history-the early church fathers, the Reformers, the Puritans-have been inspired by Scripture to reduce spiritual ethics to two lists known as "the seven deadly sins" and "the seven virtues" of saintliness. The former includes pride, envy, anger, sloth, avarice, gluttony, and lust. The latter includes wisdom, justice, courage, temperance, faith, love, and hope.

Mahatma Gandhi, though not a Christian, also had a list of "seven deadly sins, stated in the form of contrasts: wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, worship without sacrifice, politics without principle.

The truth of the matter is that all have fallen short of God's glory and all are responsible to him (Romans 3:23). All of us have committed-to one degree or another-some or all of the sins mentioned in the above "lists." "Each of us," as Isaiah said, "has turned to his/her own way" (Isaiah 53:6). And I think every person on earth, through the tug-o-war with their conscience, has some knowledge of this, even apart from scriptural testimony.

"During my hitch in the marines back in 1958," writes Chuck Swindoll, "I was stationed on Okinawa where there was a leprosarium. At that time I was playing in the third division band in the Marine Corps and we were to do a performance on that north part of the island of Okinawa.

I had read about leprosy, but I had never seen a leper and I wasn't really prepared for what I saw. We went over a bridge or two and got into the interior of this compound. I saw stumps instead of hands, I saw clumps instead of fingers. I saw half faces. I saw one ear instead of two. I saw the dregs of humanity unable even to applaud our performances. I saw in the faces of men, women, and some teenagers an anguish crying out. We could play music for them, but we could not cleanse them of their disease.

In scripture leprosy is a picture of sin. And we see that it is cleansed rather than healed. Only Jesus' blood has the power to cleanse us of our condition of sinful corruption. Now I understand when the Scripture says, `He was moved with compassion.'"1

Indeed, we are all spiritual lepers in God's sight (cf. Matt 5:3). And the realization of our wretched condition-while highly unpopular today-is prior to any real life-changing understanding of his love. Each of us knows what it is to hurt someone intentionally, to curse God, to gossip against our neighbor, to lift a brazen arm to the Almighty, to act out of malice toward someone created in God's image, to use God to our own selfish ends, to hate others, to tread underfoot the blood of Christ by willfully and consistently sinning against him presuming he'll simply grant forgiveness, to connive plans for your own advancement all the while ignoring the injury caused to colleagues, to demand God come through for you, to allow your wife to go to sleep with a heavy heart, to use grace as a fire escape, to curse the man in traffic, to hold God in contempt, to verbally dismantle your spouse in front of people-and on and on the list goes.

"The true problem lies in the hearts and thoughts of men," says Albert Einstein. "It is not a physical, but ethical one. What terrifies us is not the explosive force of the atomic bomb, but the power of the wickedness of the human heart." Einstein was right.

Who understands better the depth of God's unconditional love? The one who has been forgiven much? Or, the one forgiven little? Well, in truth-and I think Jesus would agree-the latter category does not really exist. We are all deeply offensive to God's holiness and an affront to his perfections. We all need unimaginable pardon. We understand his love when we understand that fact! Otherwise, we denigrate his love into some form of soft sentimentalism.

The love of God flows freely from Calvary's nail-pierced hands. As Jesus was in life, so he was in death: surrounded by sinners. Even in his most vulnerable hour, in his moment of greatest need, Jesus was surrounded by sinners, i.e., two thieves. During his ministry, the religious leaders criticized him for his teaching on the temple, the law, and the Sabbath, but the truth is they rejected what he had to say because they rejected him. And they rejected him in large measure because of the company he kept. He was a friend of publicans, tax-collectors, prostitutes and sinners (Mark 2:13-17)! He was their friend! Did you hear that? Jesus was more than just an acquaintance with the "down and dirty" sinners of his day...he was their friend!

Whatever you've done in life, there's no offense so great that he cannot forgive and release you from it. He's good at working with the likes of us. He knows how to love sinners, including politicians and prostitutes, drug addicts and dope dealers, the most vile and the most saintly. He knows how to value all of them, and all of them need his mercy, for all have sinned against him.

Not only does Jesus love us where we're at, he also desires to lead us out of those thoughts, acts, habits, and character traits that have shaken our marriages, ruined our businesses, destroyed out families, and left us with ulcers. He is the King of new beginnings and fresh starts! Won't you come to him now, humbly, and receive life from the One who spent his life with the likes of us and then gave himself for us?

1 Charles R. Swindoll, The Tale of the Tardy Oxcart and 1,501 Other Stories (Nashville, TN: Word, 1998), 524.

Related Topics: Devotionals

An Introduction to Genesis

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I. NATURE OF THE WORK: Although issues of science, biography and history are a part of Genesis, it is primarily a book of theology

A. Theology is communicated through the stories of Genesis

B. The stories do find reality in history:1

1. “Ugaritic (1400 B. C.) shows widespread use of cultic terms (P), poetic clichés, “Aramaisms,” divine names, and repetition in style”

2. “Early inscriptions demonstrate the plausibility of a high literacy rate at an early stage. The Gezer Calendar represents a school boy’s writing tablet (ca. 925 BC), and the inscriptions in the turquoise mines of Serabit el Khadem (15th century B. C.) are the work of slaves”

3. “Eblaite (Tell Mardikh) is just now beginning to bring forth evidence of having bearing on Genesis. One notable example is the listing of the cities of the plain (Gen. 14) as a southern boundary”

4. “Nuzi tablets, discovered in 1925 on the Tigris, show many customs found in the patriarchal narratives, such as the household servant as heir, the selling of the birthright, deathbed wills, children of concubines, and the stealing of household gods”

5. “Mari tablets (18th century), discovered in 1933, show many names comparable to those in Genesis. Moreover the concept of ‘exile’ is found in Mari (the presence of the anticipation of exile is one reason for the late date of Deuteronomy)”

6. “Hittite legal codes,discovered in 1906, show instructions for selling property with the feudal obligations (Gen. 23)”

7. “Priestly Code laws, legal and cultic, were considered to be late. But the law code of Hammurabi attests earlier codes. Many of the laws are similar (waiting til the 5th year to eat fruit [Lev. 19; Ham. 60], death to both adulterers [Lev. 20; Ham. 129], and bitter water test [Num 19; Ham. 132]). Ugaritic texts provide similar sacrificial terms, the peace offering, sin offering, trespass offering, and the heave offering. Notable is the parallel concerning boiling a kid in milk--the basis of modern Jewish Kosher laws (Ex. 23:19; CTA 52:14)”2

II. DATES: A Conservative Reconstruction of Israel’s History Is As Follows:

A. The Patriarchs 2166--1805 BC

1. Abraham 2166-19913

2. Isaac 2066-18864

3. Jacob 2006-18595

4. Joseph 1915-18056

B. Migration to Egypt 1876 (Gen 45:6)

C. Egyptian Sojourn 1876-1446 BC (Ex. 12:40)7

D. Early Date of the Exodus 1446 BC8

E. Wilderness Wanderings 1446-1406 BC

F. Conquest and Judges 1406-1050 BC

G. United Kingdom 1050-931 BC


A. [Creation] 1:1--2:3

B. Tôledôt of the heavens and the earth 2:4--4:26

C. Tôledôt of Adam 5:1--6:8

D. Tôledôt of Noah 6:9--9:29

E. Tôledôt of Shem, Ham and Japheth 10:1--11:9

F. Tôledôt of Shem 11:10-26

G. Tôledôt of Terah 11:27--25:11

H. Tôledôt of Ishmael 25:12-18

I. Tôledôt of Isaac 25:19--35:29

J. Tôledôt of Esau 36:1--37:1

K. Tôledôt of Jacob 37:2--50:6


A. To present man’s revolt against his Maker and its terrible consequences

B. To provide the historical basis for the covenant of promise with Abraham whereby God will graciously bring about the solution to man’s revolt

C. To encourage faith in YHWH by introducing His election and separation of Israel to Himself as a resolution to the terrible consequences to mankind’s revolt

1 The following comes from Allen P. Ross, "The Literary Analytical Approach," 10-11.

2 For further archaeological studies see Unger's Archaeology and the Old Testament, and Kitchen's Ancient Orient and Old Testament.

3 Abraham dies at ages 175 (Gen. 25:7).

4 Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 in 2066 (Gen 21:5) and died at age 180 in 1886 (Gen 35:21).

5 Jacob was born when Isaac was 60 in 2006 (Gen 25:26), moved to Egypt at age 130 in 1876 (Gen 47:9), and died at age 147 just 17 years after he moved to Egypt in 1859 (Gen 47:28).

6 Chronology from the Exodus back to Joseph (adapted from Allen P. Ross, "Genesis" BKC, 89):


= yr of the Exodus


= yrs the Israelites were in Egypt (Ex 12:40)


= yr Jacob moved to Egypt after 2 yrs of famine (Gen 45:6)


= portion of 7 yr famine before Jacob moved (Gen 45:6)


= yr the seven-year famine began


= yrs of abundance (Gen 41:47)


= yr Joseph released from prison and made second in command (age 30; Gen 41:46)


= yrs Joseph was in Potiphar's house and in prison


= yr Joseph was sold to Egypt (at age 17; Gen 37:2, 28)


= yrs of Joseph's youth


= yr Joseph was born

Therefore, Joseph was born in 1915, sold into Egypt at age 17 in 1898 (Gen 37:2, 28) and died at age 110 (Gen 50:26).

7 Exodus 12:40-41 proclaims that Israel lived in Egypt for 430 years to the very day of their Exodus (cf. Gal. 3:17).

This are two basic views about the 430 years mentioned in this verse.

(1) There are 430 years from Genesis 15 to Exodus 20 (e.g., 215 years from Abraham to the captivity, and 215 years from the captivity to Sinai). However, these dates do not fit with a conservative chronology (e.g., Abraham was c. 2,000 BC, and the Exodus was c. 1446 BC; Also the captivity was prophesied to be 400 years in Genesis 15:13, not 215 years)

(2) There are 430 years from Genesis 46 to Exodus 20. In Genesis 46 Jacob receives the last confirmation of the Abrahamic covenant and then goes into Egypt as one of the patriarchs c. 1876 BC. Acts 7:6, and Genesis 15:13-16 both describe 400 years of captivity. Perhaps they are using rounded numbers. Or perhaps from the final giving of the promise to Abraham's descendant, Jacob, in the Land until the Exodus is 430 years. This would make the captivity proper 400 years. 1 Chronicles 7:20-21 describes ten generations from Joseph to Joshua. It would take 400 years to grow from 70 to 2-3 million.

8 This date emphasizes the literal interpretation of the biblical numbers in Exodus 12:40 ("Now the time that the sons of Israel lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years"), Judges 11:26 ("While Israel lived in Heshbon and its villages, and in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, three hundred years, why did you not recover them within that time?") and 1 Kings 6:1 ("Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord") .

Hill and Walton offer the following arguments for an early date (A Survey of the Old Testament, 108):

"1. 1 Kings 6:1 indicates the Exodus occurred 480 years prior to the 4th year of Solomon's reign. His 4th year is variously dated at 966/960/957 B.C., placing the Exodus at 1446/1440/1437.

2. According to Judg. 11:26, Israel had occupied Canaan for 300 years before the judgeship of Jephthah, which is dated between 1100 and 1050. This dates Joshua's conquest between 1400 and 1350. Adding Israel's 40 years in the desert puts the Exodus between 1440 and 1390.

3. Moses lived in exile in Midian 40 years (Acts 7:3; cf. Exod. 2:23) while the pharaoh of the oppression was still alive. The only pharaohs who ruled 40 years or more were Thutmose III (1504-1450) and Rameses II (1290-1224).

4. The Merneptah Stela (ca. 1220) indicates Israel was already an established nation at the time.

5. The Amarna tablets (ca. 1400) speak of a period of chaos caused by the "Habiru," very likely the Hebrews.

6. The early date allows for the length of time assigned to the period of the judges (at least 250 years). The late date allows only 180 years.

7. The Dream Stela of Thutmose IV indicates he was not the legal heir to the throne (i.e., the legal heir would have died in the tenth plague).

8. Archaeological evidence from Jericho, Hazor, etc., supports a 15th-century date for the Exodus

9. Exod. 12:40 dates the entrance of Jacob into Egypt during the reign of Sesostris/Senusert III (1878-43) rather than during the Hyksos period (1674-1567)."

Therefore a plausible (and approximate) reconstruction would be as follows (Wood, A Survey of Israel 's History, 88-90):


= 4th full year (actually into the fifth) of Solomon's reign (971-931) when the Temple was begun

+44 yrs

= start of David's reign (1010)

+40 yrs

= start of Saul's reign (1050)

+40 yrs

= the time from Saul to Jephthah's statement (1050-1090)

+300 yrs

= the time in the land (Jephthah's statement) (1390)

+16 yrs

= Joshua's leadership (1406)

+40 yrs

= wilderness wondering (1446)

This matches I Kings 6:1 where 966 + 480 = 1446!

+430 yrs

= the time that Israel lived in Egypt before the Exodus (Ex. 12:40) and therefore Jacob moved to Egypt in 1876.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines

Selected, Annotated Bibliography on the Book of Genesis

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Alter, Robert. The Art of Biblical Narrative. New York: Basic Books, Inc., Publishers, 1981.
Although not a commentary on Genesis, Alter uses many of the events and persons in Genesis to demonstrate the use of literary techniques. He is not committed to the historicity of Genesis, but his evaluations of the literary features of the book are extremely valuable!

Cassuto, Umberto. A Commentary on the Book of Genesis. 2 Vols. Translated by Israel Abrahams. Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1961.
A enormous amount of material on the first part of Genesis (through 13:5 where the work ends due to Cassuto's death). Good use of ancient literary backgrounds, Rabbinic traditions, Jewish theology, and poetic analysis.

Dodds, Marcus. The Book of Genesis. The Expositors Bible. Edited by Sir W. Robertson Nicoll. New York: Hodder and Stoughton, n.d.
This older work is out of print, but would be valuable to access through a library because of Dodd's theological/applicational approach.

Fokkelman, J. P. Narrative Art in Genesis. Assen Amsterdam: Van Gorcum Press, 1975.
Although Fokkelman only covers the Dispersion at Babel (Gen. 11:1-9) and the Jacob cycles, his approach is unique as he unveils the literary character of these units. Unfortunately, it is out of print.

Geisler, Norman L. A Popular Survey of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1977.
This broad overview will not only be a good introductory tool for your study of the book of Genesis but also as a reference when studying the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Kidner, Derek. Genesis An Introduction and Commentary. The Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove: Inter-varsity Press, 1967.
This is an excellent one volume commentary which addresses significant issues in the book without being exhaustive. He is at times profound, though brief.

Keil, C. F. Genesis. In vol. 1: The Pentateuch: Three Volumes in One. Translated by James Martin. Commentary on the Old Testament. 10 vols. N.p/; reprint ed., Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1973.
This older work wrestles with critical questions, but does continue to offer the student helpful interaction with the Hebrew text and theology.

Morris, Henry, and Whitcomb, John C. The Genesis Flood. Philadelphia: The Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing Co., 1961.

Morris, Henry. The Twilight of Evolution. Nutley, N.J.: Perwpyterian & Reformed Publishing Co., 1964.
Both works by Morris argue against evolution, and argue for an early date of creation, as well as a universal flood.

Rad, Gerhard von. Genesis: A Commentary. Translated by John H. Marks. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1961.
Rather than an exegetical commentary, this is a theological analysis of Genesis. Although he is very critical, and analysis source theories, he is helpful in formulating a biblical theology of Genesis.

Ross, Allen P. Creation and Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of the Book of Genesis. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988.
This work, written by a former professor at Dallas Seminary, is designed to help several levels of reader from the serious student, to the pastor, to the scholar. Its value is especially in its theological approach to the book. In addition, Ross provides exegetical outlines of each unit and full message statements. Each chapter is concluded with a periodical bibliography for further reading.

________. Genesis. In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty: Old Testament pp. 15-102. Edited by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck. Wheaton: Victor Books, 1985.
Although necessarily brief, Ross concisely develop foundational introductory questions, and helps the reader to walk through the logic of the book.

Schaeffer, Francis A. Genesis in Space and Time. In The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer: A Christian World View: Volume Two: A Christian View of the Bible as Truth. Westchester: Crossway Books, 1982. First published as an individual work in 1972.
Schaeffer's great strength was in writing for the sake of the modern man as he wrestled with the truths of Scriptures. He is theological, but extreemly practical as he develops the implications of the Genesis 1-11.

Smith, A. E. Wilder, Man's Origin, Man's Destiny: A Critical Survey of the Principles of Evolution and Christianity. Translated by A. D. Wilder-Smith. Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, Inc. 1975.
Wilder-Smith works in a conservative fashion with questions of evolution, creation, date of the earth, and dinosaurs.

Walton, John H. Chronological and Background Charts of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Academie Books, 1978.
Although this work covers more than the events in Genesis, it is extreemly valuable as a reference source for information gathered in chart form concerning general OT information, archaeology, chronology, creation to the patriarchs, the soujourn to the conquest, the judges, the united monarchy, the divided monarchy, the return from exile, and poetry books.

Wood, Leon. A Survey of Israel's History. Grand Rapids: Xondervan Publishing House, 1970.
This introductory history of the nation Israel provides an excellent introduction to the chronology of Genesis and its role at introducing the nation of Israel through the patriarchs.


Harrell, David A. An Effective Mother is first a Woman. IBC Perspective ?(?): 88-96.
Using Genesis three, Harrell argues for functional roles of maleness and femaleness as men and women relate to one and other in marriage. He develops a model of Larry Crabb's.

Rooker, Mark F. Genesis 1:1-3: Creation or Re-Creation? Parts I and II Bibliotheca Sacra 149 (1992: July/Sept.; Oct/Dec): 316-23; 411-27.
Rooker examines the creation account and refutes Waltke's approach of a re-creation in Genesis 1:1-3. Rooker holds to an initial chaos theory where the chaos occurred in connection with the original creation.

Waltke, Bruce K. The Creation Account in Genesis 1:1-3. Part I, Introduction to Biblical Cosmology; part 2, The Restitution Theory; part 3, The Initial Chaos Theory and the Precreation Chaos Theory; part 4, The Theology of Genesis 1; part 5, The Theology of Genesis 1, continued. BibSac 132 (1975): 25-36, 136-144, 216-228, 327-342; 133 (1976): 28-41.
These works are must reading! Waltke argues well for a recreation view of Genesis 1. His discussions of ANE cosmology and biblical theology from Genesis 1 are very helpful.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines, Library and Resources

An Argument of the Book of Genesis

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After God’s word irrupts with the blessing of creation, mankind fell under the deception of the serpent and god initiated necessary judgment but promised to reestablish his rule on earth over evil through man and began to accomplish that through the line of Adam, Seth, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, AND Jacob.

I. THE CREATION OF THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH: In six days God through His sovereign word brought about order & form and fullness & harmony to the earth and the universe, then He blessed and set apart the seventh day for rest because on it He ceased from all His work of creation 1:1-2:3

A. Introduction to Creation: God, through his Spirit created the entire universe out of a dark, formless, and empty chaos 1:1-2

1. Summary Statement: In the beginning God created the universe (the heavens and the earth) 1:1

2. Circumstances--Description of the Chaos: The earth was in a chaotic state (formless and empty) covered with darkness and the Spirit of God was moving over the earth 1:2

B. Development of Creation: In the course of six days God brought about order & form and fullness & harmony to the earth and the universe through His creative word 1:3-31

1. First Three Days: In three days God brought about order & form to the earth through His sovereign and creative word 1:3-14

a. Day One---Light: God created light through His sovereign word and divided it from the darkness 1:3-5

b. Day Two--Firmament: God created the sky through His sovereign word and separated the waters above and below it 1:6-8

c. Day Three---Land & Vegetation: God created the masses of land and seas through His sovereign word and brought about the vegetation in order on the land 1:9-13

2. Second Three Days: In three more days God brought about fullness and harmony withing the created universe through His sovereign and creative word 1:14-31

a. Day Four--Light Bearers: God created through His sovereign word light bearers in the heavens to govern the temporal order of life (days, seasons, years) on the earth 1:14-19

b. Day Five--Creatures of Water & Air: God filled the sea and the air by creating animal life through His sovereign word and commanding them with His blessing to multiply 1:20-23

c. Day Six--The Clamax of Creation--Man: God created through His sovereign word animal life for the land and human life to rule in His image over creation and commanded them with His blessing to multiply 1:24-31

C. The Goal of Creation--Rest: God blessed and set apart the seventh day of Creation for rest because on it He ceased from all His work of creation 2:1-3

1. Seventh Day--Creation Completed: By the seventh day of creation God had completed His work of creation 2:1-2a

2. Rest: God blessed and set apart the seventh day because on it He ceased His work 1:2b-3

II. WHAT BECAME OF THE CREATION OF THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH:2 God’s good creation of the man and woman fell to the effects of evil as Adam and Eve rebelled under the temptation of the servant, and their descendants through Cain spread murder and looked for life apart from God in culture, but hope was found in God’s promise of deliverance and the line of Seth through Adam who prompted the worship of the Lord 2:4---4:26

A. The Creation of Man and Woman in the Garden:3 In this section describing what became of God’s good creation Moses describes the Lord God’s ( <yhOa hzhy ) creation of the man with a capacity to serve and obey Him in the garden where he was placed, and the creation of the woman as a corresponding helper to perfect creation and as a design for all marriage in society 2:4-25

1. Title: This is the record (tôledôt) of what became of God’s good creation 2:4

2. Creation of the Man: Before the earth was cultivated and flourishing the Lord God ( <yhOa hzhy ) formed the man with the capacity to serve him 2:5-7

a. Circumstances: The earth was uncultivated and unproductive for lack of any rain and any man, but the soil was being watered by a mist 2:5-6

b. Creation: The Lord God (<yhOa hzhy ) formed the man out of the dust from the ground and imparted His life giving breath to him 2:7

3. Placement in the Garden: Into a bountiful garden environment the Lord God (<yhOa hzhy ) placed the man as God’s own spiritual servant (vice-regent) and gave him a commandment that he might enjoy life 2:8-17

a. Provision: The Lord God (<yhOa hzhy ) prepared a garden in Eden with all that the heart could desire 2:8-14

1) Trees of Life and Knowledge: In the garden that God planted was the tree of life as well as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil 5:8-9

2) Source of Life: The garden was the source of life to the rich and productive regions of the world 2:10-14

b. Prohibition: The Lord God (<yhOa hzhy ) placed man in the garden to serve Him and to obey the commandment 2:15-17

1) God placed the man in the setting of the garden to serve Him 2:15

2) God gave the man His first commandment that the man might enjoy life and not die 2:16-17

4. Creation of the Woman: Because there was no corresponding partner for the man in the service of God, the Lord God (<yhOa hzhy ) provided the woman, thereby perfecting creation4 2:18-23

a. Circumstances: The man’s condition of being alone, intensified by his observation of the animal world, was not good5 2:18-20

1) God’s Determination: The Lord God (<yhOa hzhy ) determined to make a corresponding helper to complete man 2:18

2) Man’s Awareness: The Lord God (<yhOa hzhy ) made man aware of his loneliness when He began to exercise his dominion (as vice-regent) over the animals 2:19-20

b. Creation: The Lord God (<yhOa hzhy ) created a woman from the life of the man to be his corresponding partner in the service of God 2:21-23

1) Formation of Eve: Out of the sleeping man the Lord God (<yhOa hzhy ) formed Eve to correspond to him physically and spiritually 2:221-22a

2) Presentation of Eve: To the delight of the man the Lord God (<yhOa hzhy ) presented her as the man’s new partner 2:22b-23

5. Epilogue--Foundation of Marriage: Moses proclaims that this act of creation is the foundation of marriage in society--one man and one woman united in one life without fear of exploitation 2:24-25

B. After the man and woman fell from the serpent’s crafty confrontation they reluctantly confessed to the Lord God and He decreed righteous judgments against them which also promised of future deliverance, and made gracious provisions for them 3:1-24

1. The Temptation and the Fall: Through a crafty confrontation with the serpent the woman was drawn into rebellion against the Lord by eating of the forbidden fruit and giving to her husband 3:1-7

a. Prologue--Natures Compared: The humans were unashamedly naked (2:25), but the serpent was the craftiest of all God’s creatures 3:1a

b. Discussion About God’s Prohibition: The serpent engaged the woman in a discussion about the prohibition of God’s Word 3:1b-3

1) Questioning: The serpent questioned the woman about God’s ( <yhOa ) commandment 3:1b

2) Response: The woman explained what God ( <yhOa) had said, but in the process made several significant changes 3:2-3

a) Disparaged Privileges: The woman disparaged the privileges God had given 3:2-3a

b) Added to Prohibition: The woman added to the prohibition 2:3b

c) Minimized Penalty: The woman minimized the penalty for disobedience 2:3c

c. Denial of God’s Word: The serpent denied the penalty for sin, raising doubts about the integrity of God ( <yhOa) giving the commandment 3:4-5

1) Denied the Word: The serpent boldly denied God’s word 3:4

2) Questioned God’s Integrity: The serpent cast doubt on the integrity of God 3:5

d. Disobedience of the Lord: When the woman concentrated on the forbidden tree with all its appeal to her senses, she disobeyed the Lord and ate from the tree and gave to her husband to eat 3:6

1) Drawing into Sin: The appeal of the forbidden fruit to the senses was sufficient to draw the woman into sin 3:6a

a) Practical: The fruit was good for food

b) Aesthetic: The fruit was pleasing to look at

c) Spiritual: The fruit would make one wise

2) The Sin: The woman ate and gave also to her husband to eat 3:6b

e. Aftermath--Knowledge of Sin: The man and the woman suffered the consequences of their disobedience, namely, the knowledge of sin 3:7

2. The Oracles of God at the Fall: After receiving a reluctant confession from the man and the woman, the Lord God decreed righteous judgments on the serpent, woman and man which promised future deliverance, and made gracious provisions for the man and woman 3:8-24

a. Call to Confession: The Lord God (<yhOa hzhy ) called Adam and Eve to confess their disobedience, but they delayed their confession with attempts to vindicate themselves 3:8-13

1) The Hiding: Adam and Eve, ashamed of their nakedness and afraid of God, hid in the midst of the trees 3:8

2) Adam’s Confession: In response to the Lord’s interrogation, Adam eventually confessed that he ate, but only after blaming God for giving him the woman 3:9-12

3) Eve’s Confession: In response to the Lord’s interrogation, Eve also confessed, but only after shifiting the blame to the serpent 3:13

b. Righteous Decrees: The Lord God decreed righteous judgments--on the serpent, the woman, and the man--which also promised future relief and ultimate victory 3:14-19

1) Curse on the Serpent: In His curse on the serpent, God declared that there would be perpetual conflict between good and evil until the seed of the woman triumphed 3:14--15

2) Oracle to the Woman: In the oracle for the woman, god declared that there would be increased pain in childbirth and male domination in life 3:16

3) Oracle to the Man: In the oracle for the man, God declared that there would be a curse on the earth, making human survival a painful experience that would end only through death 3:17-19

c. Gracious Provision: The Lord God provided skins to cover the nakedness of the man and his wife and prevented them from living forever in their sinful condition 3:20-24

1) Adam’s Faith: Adam demonstrated their faith in the Lord’s words by naming his wife Eve 3:20

2) God’s Provision: God made provision for their sin and shame by providing animal skins to clothe them 5:21

3) God’s Prevention: God prevented their living on under the curse by driving them out of the garden and hindering their return 3:22-24

C. The Far Reaching Developments of the Fall in Civilization: The far reaching effects of the fall were that Cain murdered his brother able and the line of Cain in creased in its murder of others, but hope was found in God’s gracious protection of Cain and the line of Seth through Adam which prompted the worship the Lord 4:1-26

1. The Story of Cain and Abel: In spite of God’s warning against sin, Cain murdered his brother, Abel, because his brother’s offering was accepted and his was not, denied responsibility for the crime, and protested the severity of the punishment prompting God to provide protection for him 4:1-16

a. Cain’s Anger: When Cain’s offering was not accepted but Abel’s was, Cain became very angry 4:1-5

1) The Participants: Cain and Abel were born to Eve; the firstborn--considered a provision from the Lord--became a tiller of the ground and the second, a shepherd of the sheep 4:1-2

a) The Births: Eve gave birth to Cain and Abel, the birth of Cain being considered a provision of the Lord 4:1-2a

b) Their Tasks: Abel became a shepherd of the sheep, but Cain a tiller of the ground 4:2b

2) The Occasion: Cain and Abel brought sacrifices to the Lord, Abel’s being accepted but Cain’s rejected--a rejection that enraged Cain 4:3-5

a) The Offering: Cain brought an offering, but Abel brought the best he had 4:3-4a

b) Responses: When Abel and his offering were preferred over Cain and his offering , Cain was enraged 4:4b-5

b. Cain’s Murder: In spite of the Lord’s warning to master sin, Cain murdered his brother 4:6-8

1) Interrogation: The Lord interrogated Cain about his anger and advised him to do that which was right 4:6-8

2) Murder: Cain deliberately killed his brother in the field 4:8

c. Cain’s Denial: When the Lord questioned Cain about the murder of his brother, Cain denied any knowledge of it and any responsibility for his brother 4:9

d. Cain’s Protest: When the Lord established the punishment for the crime, Cain protested the severity of it, drawing a gracious protection from the Lord 4:10-15

1) Cain Banished: The Lord banished Cain from the fertile land 4:10-12

2) Cain Protested: Cain protested the severity of the punishment, fearing blood revenge 4:13-14

3) God’s Provision: The Lord graciously provided protection for the murder 4:15

e. Epilogue: Cain fled from the presence of the Lord 4:16

2. The Beginning of Civilization: In contrast to Cain’s descendants, who, while altering the instructions of God and disdaining the value of life, produced cities, music, and all kinds of implements for the good life, the descendants of Adam through Seth primarily promoted the worship of the Lord 4:17-26

a. The Family of Cain: The family of Cain altered the institutions of God and disdained the value of life but at the same time produced cities, music and all types of implements for the good life (apart from God) 4:17-24

1) The Line of Cain: Cain fathered Enoch, after whom he named a city and through whom the line developed to Lamech 4:17-18

a) Birth: Cain knew his wife and fathered Enoch 4:17a

b) Memorial: Cain built a city and named it after his son 4:17b

c) Descendants: Enoch continued the line of descendants toward Lamech 4:18

2) The Evil of Lamech: Lamech, who through two wives fathered those who produced all kinds of implements for the enjoyment and convenience of life, exulted over killing a youth 4:19-24

a) Marriage: Altering God’s institution of marriage, Lamech took two wives and fathered those who produced cultural things 4:19-22

b) Murder: Disdaining the value of life, Lamech exulted in his prowess of killing a youth and his expectation of greater vengeance than Cain 4:23-24

b. The Family of Adam through Seth: The family of Adam through Seth preserved the worship of the Lord God through birth and proclamation 4:25-26

1) Birth: Adam knew his wife and fathered a son 4:25a

2) Memorial: Seth was named to commemorate God’s provision of the son 4:25b

3) Descendants: Seth continued the line of Enosh, at which time people began to proclaim the name of the Lord 4:26

III. WHAT BECAME OF ADAM:6 As the curse worked itself out in the human race through Seth who was born of Adam and Eve whom God had created, the effects of the curse was increasingly felt through death and an overstepping of the bounds by superhumans until the Lord determined to destroy all living creatures, but hope was seen in Enoch, whom God took, and the grace which Noah found in the Lord’s sight 5:1--6:8

A. The Outworking of the Curse in the Human Race--The Genealogy from Adam to Noah:7 After God created man and woman in His image and with his blessing the human race, living under the curse, multiplied continually and died just as regularly--with the exception of Enoch who walked with God--all of which prompted a hope for relief from the curse 5:1-32

1. Title: This is what became (tôledôt) of Adam 5:1a

2. Adam to Seth: After 130 years, Adam, who was created in God’s image and blessed by God, fathered Seth in his image and then died at the age of 930 years 5:1b-5

a. Creation: God made human beings as His image and blessed them 5:1b-2

b. Development: Adam fathered Seth after his image and then died 5:3-5

3. Seth to Enosh: After 105 years, Seth fathered Enosh and then died at the age of 912 years 5:6-8

4. Enosh to Kenan: After 90 years, Enosh fathered Kenan and then died at the age of 905 years 5:9-11

5. Kenan to Mehalalel: After 70 years, Kenan fathered Mehalalel and then died at the age of 910 years 5:12-14

6. Mahalalel to Jared: After 65 years, Mahalalel fathered Jared and then died at the age of 895 5:15-17

7. Jared to Enoch: After 162 years, Jared fathered Enoch and then died at the age of 962 years 5:18-20

8. Enoch to Methusalah: After 65 years, Enoch fathered Methuselah and then walked with God for 300 years until God took him 4:21-24

a. Enoch Fathered Methuselah: Enoch fathered Methuselah at age 65 5:21

b. Enoch Walked with God: After the birth of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God for 300 years 5:22-23

c. God Took Enoch: Because Enoch walked with God, He took him 5:24

9. Methuselah to Lamech: After 187 years, Methuselah fathered Lamech and then died at the age of 969 years 5:25-27

10. Lamech to Noah: After 182 years, Lamech fathered Noah, hoping for comfort from the curse, and then died at the age of 777 years 5:28-31

11. Noah to Shem, Ham, and Japheth 5:32

B. God’s Grief over the Wickedness of Humankind--The Great Wickedness:8 In response to the wickedness on the earth, in which superhuman beings overstepped their bounds and humankind’s thoughts and deeds were completely evil, the Lord God determined to destroy all living creatures except the recipients of grace 6:1-8

1. The Overstepping of Superhuman Beings: When superhuman beings overstepped their bounds by taking as wives all the women they wanted, giving rise to the appearance of ancient heroes, the Lord warned that He would withdraw his protection 6:1-4

a. Wickedness: Superhuman beings, seeing the beauty of human women, took them as wives9 6:1-2

b. Oracle: The divine Lord placed a limit on his protection of human life 6:3

c. Qualification: The Nephilim, the ancient heroes, appeared on earth after the marriages10 6:4

2. God’s Determination to Destroy: When the Lord saw how grievously wicked humankind was, He determined to destroy all living creatures from the earth except Noah, who found grace 6:5-8

a. Wickedness: All of men’s and women’s thoughts and actions were evil all the time 6:5

b. Oracle: Because the Lord was grieved over humankind, He determined to destroy all living creatures 6:6-7

1) Emotional: The Lord was grievously pained by human kind 6:6

2) Volitional: The Lord determined to destroy all living creatures from the earth 6:7

c. Qualification: Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord 6:8

IV. WHAT BECAME OF NOAH:11 Because humankind was corrupt the Lord destroyed the world with a devastating flood but He graciously saved creation and established a new order through Noah proclaiming His high regard for life through a prohibition against murder and promising never to destroy the earth again through water whereupon Noah proclaimed the continuance of hope through Shem with Japheth and the sons of Ham (Canaan) under him 6:9--9:29

A. The Judgment of the Flood:12 Because the race was corrupt and filled with violence, the Lord destroyed it and its world with a devastating flood but used Noah, his righteous servant, to save creation and establish a new order after the judgment of the flood 6:9--8:22

1. Title: This is what became (tôledôt) of Noah 6:9a

2. The Commission of Noah to Build the Ark: God instructed Noah, His righteous servant, to prepare the ark, because a great flood would destroy the corrupt, violent race 6:9b-22

a. Noah’s Character: Noah was a righteous in a world that was characterized by evil 6:9b-12

1) Righteous: Noah was righteous and walked with God 6:9b-10

2) Corrupt: The entire human race was corrupt and filled with violence 6:11-12

b. God’s Commission: God instructed Noah to prepare an ark to save himself and his family and every creature because the entire world was to be destroyed by a flood 6:13-22

1) Forewarning: God forewarned Noah of the destruction to come 6:13

2) Instructing: God Instructed Noah to build the ark 6:14-21

3) Obedience: Noah did as the Lord had commanded him 6:22

3. Destruction by a Great Flood: After Noah, his family, and the animals entered the ark, the Lord destroyed the entire earth and all its inhabitants by a great flood 7:1-24

a. Entered the Ark: In obedience to the Lord’s instructions, Noah, his family and the animals entered the ark 7:1-9

b. Destruction: The Lord brought a great flood on the earth, and every living thing was destroyed 7:10-24

1) Shut in the Ark: Those who entered the ark on the day the flood began were shut in safely by the Lord 7:10-16

2) All on the Earth Died; The waters prevailed over the whole earth, so that every living thing died 7:17-24

4. After the Flood: When the flood receded and the earth was once again inhabitable, Noah obediently emptied the ark and faithfully offered a sacrifice that God accepted 8:1-22

a. Ending the Flood: God began to restore the world by ending the storm and eliminating its effect 8:1-5

1) Remembered Noah: God remembered Noah 8:1a

2) Restored the Earth: God began to restore the earth 8:1b-5

b. Noah Waited: Noah waited until the earth was inhabitable before leaving the ark 8:6-19

1) Test Conditions: Noah tested the new environment by releasing birds 8:6-12

2) Emptied the Ark: Noah emptied the ark after he saw the condition of the earth 8:13-19

c. Offered a Sacrifice: The Lord accepted Noah’s sacrifice of the clean animals and withdrew His curse of the flood 8:20-22

1) Sacrificed: Noah sacrificed a pleasing sacrifice to the Lord 8:20

2) The Lord’s Resolve: The Lord resolved not to judge the evil race in this manner again 8:21-22

B. The Covenant of God Through Noah: Demonstrating His high regard for life, God established a new order with the blessing of fruitfulness and the prohibition of taking another person’s life and promised by covenant never to destroy every living creature again by such a flood--the rainbow being the reminder of this gracious covenant 9:1-17

1. Establishment of a New Order: God established the new order by blessing Noah as he had Adam and by instructing humankind that, rather than destroy human life, they must populate the earth and preserve life 9:1-7

a. Exhortation: God began the new order by blessing Noah as He had Adam and by allowing people to eat meat without blood 9:1-4

1) Fill the Earth: Human beings were to be fruitful and multiply 9:1

2) Provision: Human beings were allowed to eat of every living thing 9:2-3

3) Prohibition: Human beings were not to eat animals alive, that is, with the blood in them 9:4

b. Prohibition: God prohibited people from shedding human blood, for humans were in the image of God 9:5-6

1) Punished by God: Any violation of the law of shedding blood would be punished by God 9:5

2) Image of God: Anyone who shed the blood of another person would be put to death, for humans were in the image of God 9:6

c. Exhortation to Fill the Earth: God restated His instructions for humankind to fill the earth 9:7

2. Covenant Promise: God promised with an unconditional, enduring covenant that He would never again destroy the world with such a flood and sealed His promise with the sign of the bow (rainbow) 9:8-17

a. Sermon: God promised with a covenant that He would never again destroy the world with such a flood 9:8-11

b. Sign: God sealed his covenant with the sign of the rainbow, reminding Himself and the race of the covenant promise 9:12-16

c. Reiteration: God reiterated the sign of the covenant of peace 9:17

C. The Oracle of Noah--the Curse on Canaan:13 Noah cursed Canaan, the descendant of Ham, with slavery but blessed Shem and Japheth because, when he had become intoxicated and had lain naked in his tent, Ham had responded with disrespect, whereas Shem and Japheth had respectfully covered their father’s nakedness 9:18-29

1. Prologue: The entire earth was populated by those who descended from Shem, Ham, and Japheth--Ham being the father of Canaan 9:18-19

2. Event: In response to Noah’s intoxication and nakedness, Ham acted with disrespect, but Shem and Japheth acted with reverence in covering their father 9:20-23

a. Noah’s Behavior: After planting a vineyard, Noah became drunk and lay naked in his tent 9:20-21

b. The Sons’ Response: Ham Acted with disrespect, but his brothers covered their father’s nakedness 9:22-23

3. Oracle: Upon learning what Ham had done, Noah pronounced an oracle, cursing Canaan with abject slavery and blessing Shem and Japheth 9:24-27

a. Noah’s Knowledge: Waking from the wine, Noah learned how his youngest son had acted 9:24

b. Noah’s Oracle: Noah proclaimed that Canaan, the son of Ham, would be cursed with slavery to Shem and Japheth

1) Canaan: Canaan, the son of Ham, would be cursed with abject slavery 9:25

2) Shem: The Lord, the God of Shem, would be blessed so that Shem would be served by Canaan 9:26

3) Japheth: Japheth would be enlarged and settle in Shem’s tents causing Canaan to serve him 9:27

4. Epilogue:14 Noah lived 350 years after the flood and died at the age of 950 years 9:28-29

V. WHAT BECAME OF SHEM, HAM AND JAPHETH:15 All of the nations of the world descended from Shem, Ham and Japheth among whom were the Canaanite tribes and the eastern powers, but they did not scatter in obedience to the Lord’s command but as a result of the Lord’s judgment upon their rebellious apostasy in the fourth generation 10:1--11:9

A. The Table of Nations:16 From Shem, Ham, and Japheth descended all the nations of the world in their lands and according to their languages, among whom were the Canaanite tribes, who occupied the land of Canaan, and the eastern powers, who derived from Nimrod of the Hamitic line 10:1-32

1. Title: This is what became (tôledôt) of Shem, Ham, and Japheth after the flood 10:1

2. Descendants of Japheth: The descendants of Japheth settled in the north and west and became the founders of the Greek and Scythian tribes 10:2-5

3. Descendants of Ham: The descendants of Ham settled in the area of Egypt and Canaan, and from these tribes came the founders of the great cities of the east 10:6-20

a. Descendant of Ham: The descendants of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan 10:6

b. Descendants of Cush: The descendants of Cush were the people of the arabian peninsula 10:7

c. Expansion: Nimrod founded the great cities of the east 10:8-12

d. Descendants of Mizraim: The Descendants of Mizraim were the tribes of northern Africa 10:13-14

e. Expansion: Canaan produced the Canaanite tribes (cliché list) in the land promised to Israel 10:15-20

4. Descendants of Shem: The descendants of Shem, the ancestor of Eber, settled in the eastern lands and in the region of the Persian Gulf 10:21-31

a. The descendants of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram 10:21-22

b. Tribes: The descendants of Shem formed the major tribes of the eastern gulf regions 10:23-31

5. Colophon: These were the divisions of the nations 10:32

B. The Dispersion of the Nations:17 When the human race settled together to preserve their unity and develop their fame by building a grandiose city-tower, the Lord interrupted their collective apostasy and scattered them across the face of the earth by confusing the language that united them 11:1-9

1. Prologue: The human race was united by one language 11:1

2. Human Endeavor: Migrating to the land of Shinar, the people resolved to build a grandiose city and tower to preserve their identity and their unity 11:2-4

a. Event: The people migrated to, and settled in, Shinar’s fertile valley 11:2

b. Resolution: The people resolved to make bricks and build a city and a tower so that they might preserve their name and their unity 11:3-4

1) Ingenuity: They resolved to make bricks out of the materials available to them 11:3

2) Ambition: They resolved to develop a tower-city to make a name for themselves and to prevent scattering 11:4

a) Purpose: They wished to preserve their name 11:4a

b) Fear: They did not want to be scattered abroad 11:4b

3. The Lord’s intervention: Investigating the enterprise of the human race and knowing the dangerous potential of their unified pride, the Lord confounded their speech and scattered them abroad 11:5-8

a. Event: The Lord descended to investigate their building 11:5

b. Resolution: Knowing their potential was dangerously evil, the Lord resolved to scatter them across the face of the earth 11:6-8

1) Observation: The Lord concluded that nothing would be withheld from their designs 11:6

2) Resolution: The Lord resolved to destroy their unity 11:7

3) Solution: The Lord scattered them across the face of the earth so that their project ceased 11:8

4. Epilogue: The human race was disunited and scattered by the Lord’s making a babble of their one language at Babel 11:9

VI. WHAT BECAME OF SHEM:18 Having just traced the disobedient families of the earth coming from Noah’s sons through a horizontal genealogy, this vertical genealogy traces the line of blessing through Shem, the son of Noah, to Abram, the descendant of Shem 11:10-26

A. Shem to Aprachshad: Shem was 100 years old when be became the father of Aprachshad then he lived 500 more years and had other sons and daughters 11:10-11

B. Arpachshad to Shelah: Arpachshad was 35 years old when he became the father of Shelah, then he lived 403 more years and had other sons and daughters 11:12-13

C. Shelah to Eber: Shelah was 30 years old when he became the father of Eber, then he lived 403 more years and had other sons and daughters 11:14-15

D. Eber to Peleg: Eber was 34 years old when he became the father of Peleg, then he lived 430 more years and had other sons and daughters 11:16-17

E. Peleg to Reu: Peleg was 30 years old when he became the father of Reu, then he lived 209 years more and had other sons and daughters 11:18-19

F. Reu to Serug: Rue was 32 years old when he became the father of Serug, then he lived 207 more years and had other sons and daughters 11:20-21

G. Serug to Nahor: Serug was 30 years old when he became the father of Nahor, then he lived 200 more years and had other sons and daughters 11:22-23

H. Nahor to Terah: Nahor was 29 years old when he became the father of Terah, then he lived 119 more years and had other sons and daughters 11:24-25

I. Terah: Terah was 70 years old when he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran 11:26

VII. WHAT BECAME OF TERAH:19 In the development of Terah’s line his son, Abraham, receives the promise from God that he will give him a new land, make him a great nation and make him a blessing to all by forsaking his homeland and coming to the land of promise whereupon he places the promise at risk through manipulation to protect it, but the Lord is faith to protect and confirms it many times until finally Abraham is able to trust it (Isaac) with God whereupon Abraham transfers the promise to Isaac 11:27--25:11

A. Title: This is what became (tôledôt) of Terah 11:27a

B. Transition--The Record of Terah’s Obedience: After Terah gave birth to Abram, Nahor and Haran (the father of Lot), Haran died, Abram married barren Sarai and Nahor married Milchah, and Terah took them out from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan and went as far as Haran where they settled and Terah died at the age of 205 years 11:27-32

1. The Birth of Abram and His Brothers: Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran (who became the father of Lot) 11:27a

2. The Death of Haran: Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his birth--Ur of the Chaldeans 11:28

3. The Marriages of the Two Surviving Sons: Abram married Sarai, who was barren, and Nahor married Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Michah and Ischar 11:29-30

4. Pilgrimage of the Family--Including Lot: Terah took Abram, Lot (the son of Haran) and Sarah (his daughter-in-law) out from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan and went as far as Haran where they settled and Terah died at the age of 205 years 11:31-32

C. The Record of Abram’s Obedience: Abram obeyed the commandment of the Lord to forsake his homeland for the promise of a new land, a new nation, and personal greatness, by journeying to the land of Canaan, and to be a blessing by making proclamation of his new-found faith through worship 11:27--12:9

1. Call: The Lord Called Abram to forsake his homeland for the promise of a new land, a new nation, and personal greatness, and to be the means of blessing for the world 12:1-3

a. Leave: Abram was to leave his homeland for the promised land 12:1

b. Blessing: God promised Abram great personal blessing in order that he might be a blessing 12:2

c. Blessing: The people of the world would be blessed if they shared in Abram’s blessing 12:3

2. Obedience: Although advanced in years, Abram journeyed to the land of the Canaanites with his wife, his nephew, his possessions, and his proselytes 12:4-6

a. Obeyed: Abram obeyed the Lord and went to Canaan, even though he was seventy-five years old 12:4

b. Those with Him: Abram took his wife, his nephew, his possessions, and the proselytes he made at Haran 12:5

c. Entered Canaan: Abram entered the land of the Canaanites and stopped at a shrine near Shechem 12:6

3. Confirmation: The Lord appeared to Abram and promised to give the land to his descendants 12:7a

4. Obedience: Although he had to journey on toward the South, Abram made proclamation to his faith in the Lord at his altars 12:7b-9

a. Made an Altar: In response to the Lord’s appearance, Abram made an altar 12:7b

b. Made Another Altar: When Abram settled between Bethel and Ai, he made another altar and made proclamation of the Lord by name 12:8

c. Journeyed South: Abram continually journeyed on toward the South 12:9

D. The Sojourn in Egypt to Protect the Promise: When Abram passed his wife off as his sister, fearing that otherwise the Egyptians would kill him for her, he jeopardized the promise of blessing by losing his wife to Pharaoh, but the Lord intervened with plagues to deliver him and his wife from Egypt 12:10-20

1. Protection in Egypt: When Abram traveled to Egypt to escape the famine (and thus protect the promise), he feared that the Egyptians would kill him for Sarai and so asked her to say that she was his sister 12:10-13

a. Sojourn: Abram went to sojourn in Egypt because of the famine 12:10

b. Self-Protection: Recognizing that Sarai was very beautiful and fearing that the Egyptians might kill him to get her, Abram told her to say she was his sister 12:11-13

2. Sarai Taken: When Pharaoh’s officials praised Sarai’s beauty to him, she was taken into Pharaoh’s harem, and Abram was paid generously for her 12:14-16

a. Sarai Taken: The princes praised the woman to Pharaoh, who took her into the harem 12:14-15

b. Abram Paid: Pharaoh paid Abram a generous dowry for Sarai 12:16

3. The Lord’s Intervention: When the Lord intervened by inflicting Pharaoh’s household with plagues, Pharaoh rebuked Abram for his deception and expelled him from Egypt 12:17-20

a. Pharaoh’s House Plagued: In order to prevent sexual defilement, the Lord plagued the house of Pharaoh 12:17

b. Sarai Returned and Abram Expelled: Pharaoh rebuked Abram, returned Sarai and expelled them from his country 12:18-20

E. Faith in the Promise: Abram demonstrates faith in the promise by magnanimously giving Lot his choice of the land which God had promised to him, by moving as a military power to deliver Lot from the kings of the north, and by receiving the King of Salem’s blessing while refusing to tarnish God’s blessing by not receiving the offer of the king of Sodom 13:1--15:6

1. Faith’s Solution to Strife: When a strife about the land broke out between the herdsmen of Abram and the herdsmen of Lot after they returned to the place where the altar had been built at first, Abram settled the dispute by magnanimously giving Lot his choice of the best land--which was inhabited by wicked sinners--and in return received the reaffirmation of God’s promise 13:1-18

a. Strife Over the Land: When Abram and his family returned to Bethel, where he head fist built an altar, a strive broke out between Lot’s herdsmen and Abram’s herdsmen over the land 13:1-7

1) Return from Egypt: Abram journeyed back to the place of his altar, but now he was very wealthy 13:1-4

a) Returned Wealthy: Abram returned to the land a wealthy man 13:1-2

b) Returned to Bethel: Abram returned to the altar at Bethel and proclaimed his faith 13:3-4

2) Land Could Not Sustain: Lot, who journeyed with Abram, was also very wealthy, so that the land could not sustain them both 13:5-6

a) Lot Was Wealthy: Lot was also very wealthy 13:5

b) Land Could Not Sustain: The land could not bear all of Abram’s and Lot’s possessions 13:6

c) Strife Broke Out: A strive broke out between the herdsmen of Abram and Lot, among the Canaanites who dwelt in the land 13:7

3) Settlement: Abram settled the strife by offering the first choice of the land to Lot, who chose the beautiful Jordan valley 13:8-13

a) Stopped the Quarrel: Abram stopped the quarrel because they were relatives, offering Lot his choice of all the land 13:8-9

b) Lot’s Choice: Lot chose the region of the Jordan valley because--before the Lord destroyed it--it was well watered and beautiful 13:10-11

c) Lot’s Settlement: Lot settled near Sodom--where wicked sinners lived--but Abram stayed in Canaan 13:12-13

4) The Lord’s Affirmation to Abram: The Lord reaffirmed his promise of the Land and of innumerable descendants to inhabit it and invited Abram to investigate his land 13:14-18

a) Reaffirmed the Promises: God reaffirmed the promises to Abram 13:14-16

b) Invitation to Investigate: God invited Abram to investigate his land 13:17

c) Settlement of Abram: Abram settled near Hebron and built an altar 13:18

2. The Rescue of Lot from the Invaders: When powerful eastern kings swept through the land, destroying and plundering the cities of the Jordan and taking Lot captive, Abram and his federation of retainers pursued and defeated the invaders in a surprise night attack, rescuing Lot and the possessions 14:1-16

a. The Military Campaign: In an effort to put down rebellion, powerful eastern kings invaded the Jordan valley, defeating all the military forces in the region, plundering the Jordanian kings, and taking Lot captive 14:1-12

1) Invasion of the Eastern Kings: The eastern kings, in an effort to put down rebellion, invaded the Jordan valley and defeated all the powers in their way 14:1-7

a) Summary Statement: Four kings waged war against five kings 14:1-3

b) Effect: Four Kings swept through the region to put down the rebellion 14:4-7

2) Defeat of the Jordanian Kings: The eastern kings defeated the Jordanian kings and plundered their towns, taking Lot captive 14:8-12

a) The Jordanian Kings Fight: The kings of the region of the Jordan set the battle in Siddim against the invading kings 14:8-9

b) The Jordanian Kings Fell: The Jordanian kings fell in battle at Siddim and fled to the mountains 14:10

c) Invading Kings Plundered: The invading kings plundered the goods from the city and took Lot captive 14:11-12

b. Victory of Abram: Upon hearing of the invasion and the capture of Lot, Abram mustered his trained men and, together with his allies, pursued and defeated the invaders in a night attack, rescuing Lot and all the possessions 14:13-16

1) Learned of Lot’s Capture: Abram, while dwelling in Hebron with his allies, learned of the capture of Lot from one of the fugitives 14:13

2) Pursued the Enemies: Upon hearing the report, Abram mustered his trained men and pursued the enemies to Hobah, winning a surprise attack at night 14:14-15

3) Brought Back Goods and People: Abram brought back all the goods and all the people--including Lot 14:16

3. Melchizedek and Sodom Meet Abram--The Untarnished Blessing: When Abram was blessed by the king of Salem, Melchizedek, and then offered riches by the king of Sodom, Abram swore that he would take nothing from the king of Sodom, lest the blessing should be tarnished 14:17-24

a. Meeting of Two Kings: Abram met two kings after his military victory, one offering him the blessing of the Most high God, and the other offering him a deal 14:17-21

1) King of Sodom: The king of Sodom came out to meet Abram after the battle 14:17

2) King of Salem: The king of Salem came out to meet Abram after the battle and brought him bread and wine 14:18

3) King of Salem Blessed: The King of Salem blessed Abram and God and then received a tithe 14:19-20

4) King of Sodom Made a Deal: The king of Sodom offered Abram wealth in exchange for the people 14:21

b. Abram Refused: Abram swore before the Most High Lord God, who blessed him with victory, that he would take nothing that belonged to the king of Sodom, lest Sodom take the credit 14:22-24

1) Oath: Abram swore to take nothing that belonged to Sodom 14:22

2) Motive: Abram wished to avoid allowing Sodom to take the credit for the blessing, although his allies could take what they wished 14:23-24

F. The Lord Secures and Confirms the Promise: The Lord secured and confirmed his covenant with Abram through specific promises to give him innumerable descendants, through a symbolic ratification of the covenant, through promising to bless Abram’s seed through Hagar in spite of Abram’s unbelief, by confirming the covenant by the rite of circumcision as the sign of obedient faith and by the change of names for Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah 15:7--17:17

1. YHWH’s Secure Covenant: In response to Abram’s request for confirmation of his faith, the Lord specifically promised to give him innumerable descendants; and in response to Abram’s request for assurance of the promise, the Lord solemnly and symbolically ratified the covenant in the midst of thick darkness that signified the enslavement that would precede the fulfillment 15:1-21

a. First Dialogue--Direct Word of Confirmation from the Lord: In response to Abram’s request and complaint, the Lord specifically promised that one from his loins would receive his inheritance and begin an innumerable seed 15:1-5

1) Oracle: The Lord declared his protection and provision for Abram 15:1

2) Lament: Abram expressed his concern that the promise had not been fulfilled and that his servant was about to inherit his estate 15:2-3

3) Assurance: The Lord declared that Abram’s own son would be his heir and that his descendants would be innumerable 15:4-5

b. Conclusion and Transition--Report of Abram’s Faith and Righteousness: Abram’s faith in the Lord made him acceptable to God 15:6

c. Second Dialogue--Divine Guarantee of the Promise: In response to Abram’s request, the Lord instructed Abram to prepare the animals for the ratifying of the covenant 15:7-21

1) Prepare the Animals: In response to Abram’s request, the Lord instructed Abram to prepare the animals for the Ratifying of the covenant 15:7-11

a) The Lord’s Speech--Self-Revelation and Promise of Land: the Lord identified himself and reiterated the promise 15:7

b) Abram’s Speech--Request for Assurance of the Promise: Abram requested some evidence to assure him of the fulfillment of the promise 15:8

c) The Lord’s Speech--Instruction: The Lord instructed Abram to prepare the animals for the ceremony 15:9-11

(1) Instruction for Abram 15:9

(2) Obedience of Abram 15:10-11

2) The Lord’s Speech--Assurance of the Promises: Even though Abram’s descendants will be enslaved four hundred years, the Lord assured Abram that he would die in peace, and that the promises will come true through a ratification of the covenant 15:12-21

a) Cycle One--Circumstances and Promise: In the midst of Abram’s horrifying thick darkness, the Lord revealed that, before his descendants inherited the land, they would be enslaved four hundred years but that Abram himself would die in peace 15:12-16

(1) Circumstances: The Lord prepared Abram for the revelation of the oppression 15:12

(2) Promise--Enslaved: The Lord disclosed that the seed of Abram would be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years before receiving the promises 15:13-14

(3) Promise--Peace: The Lord assured Abram that he would die in peace 15:15

(4) Promise--Return: The Lord explained that he would return the seed to the land to execute justice on the sinful Amorites 15:16

b) Cycle Two--Circumstances and Promise: In the darkness the Lord symbolically ratified the covenant promises with the firepot and blazing torch, assuring Abram of the ultimate fulfillment of the promise 15:17-21

(1) Circumstance: The Lord guaranteed the certainty of the promises by unilaterally ratifying the covenant 15:17

(2) Promise: The Lord clarified the promise by naming the boundaries of the land and the dispossessed people 15:18-21

2. Ishmael--The Rebuke of Weak Faith: When Sarai and Abram generated tremendous complications by their attempt to obtain an heir through the social customs of the day--complications that caused Hagar to flee to the wilderness--the Lord showed himself faithful by responding to Hagar’s affliction, providing for her needs, and promising her progeny through Abram’s son, Ishmael 16:1-16

a. Prologue: Sarai, the wife of Abram, was barren, but she had an Egyptian handmaid named Hagar 16:1

b. Human Faithlessness: Sarai and Abram carried out their own plan to obtain an heir through the social customs of the day, but succeeded only in complicating matters with a conflict 16:2-6

1) Sarai’s Plan: When Sarai was blaming the Lord for her bareness, she instructed Abram to take Hagar as a wife, whereupon he agreed and Hagar conceived 16:2-4a

a) Instruction to Abram: Sarai, blaming the Lord for her bareness, instructed Abram to take the maid as a wife 16:2a

b) Abram’s Obedience: Abram obeyed his wife and accepted Hagar from her 16:2b-3

c) Hagar’s Conception: Hagar conceived 16:4a

2) Sarai’s Tension: Blaming her husband for the tension between her and Hagar, Sarai called for judgment whereupon Abram complied and Hagar fled 16:4b-6

a) Call for Judgment: Sarai, blaming her husband for the tension between Hagar and herself, called for judgment 16:4b-5

b) Abram Complied: Abram complied with his wife’s wishes 16:6a

c) Hagar Fled: Hagar fled when she was treated harshly 16:6b

c. Divine Faithfulness: The angel of the Lord found Hagar in the wilderness, instructed her to return, and promised to bless her with Ishmael and his descendants, thus prompting Hagar to commemorate the spot where God heard her affliction and saw her need 16:7-14

1) Hagar Found and Instructed: The angel of the Lord found Hagar in the wilderness and instructed her to return 16:7-9

a) Found Hagar: The angel found Hagar and interrogated her about her dilemma 16:7-8a

b) Hagar Explained: Hagar explained that she was fleeing form Sarai 16:8b

c) Instruction to Return: The angel instructed her to return to her mistress 16:9

2) Prophecy: The angel of the Lord foretold Hagar’s progeny through Ishmael 16:10-12

a) Many Descendants: The angel promised many descendants from Hagar 16:10

b) Announced Birth: The angel announced the birth of her son Ishmael 16:11

c) Predicted Destiny: The angel predicted the destiny of her sons’s tribe 16:12

3) Hagar’s Response: Hagar responded in faith to this gracious visitation by calling on the Lord and naming the well to commemorate the deliverance 16:13-14

d. Epilogue: Hagar, the handmaid of Sarai, bore Ishmael to Abram when he was eight-six years old 16:15-16

3. The Pledge of the Promise and the Sign of the Covenant: The Lord confirmed his covenant with Abram by establishing the rite of circumcision as the sign of obedient faith and attested to its promises by changing his name to Abraham to comply with the ordinance of circumcision 17:1-27

a. Confirmation of the Covenant: When the Lord appeared to Abram to confirm the covenant, he called for a life of faithful obedience and changed the patriarch’s name to Abraham as a pledge of the promise 17:1-8

1) Preparation for Confirmation: The Lord, appearing as El Shadday, called for a life of obedient faith as he prepared to confirm the promises of the covenant 17:1-2

a) Narrative Framework: The Lord appeared to Abram 17:1a

b) Preamble: The Lord revealed himself as El Shadday and called for a perfect walk as a basis for receiving the promises 17:1b-2

2) Abram’s Response: Abram fell on his face before the Lord 17:3a

3) Promises Confirmed: The Lord, reiterating his promises to Abram, changed the patriarch’s name to Abraham as a pledge 17:3b-8

a) Name Change: The Lord named Abram Abraham because he would become the father of a multitude of nations 17:3b-5

b) Promises: The Lord reiterated the covenantal promises of fruitfulness and inheritance 17:6-8

b. Sign of the Covenant: the Lord instituted the rite of circumcision as the sign of the covenant 17:9-14

1) Identified: The Lord identified the sign of the covenant 17:9-11

2) Regulations: The Lord specified the regulations concerning the sign of the covenant 17:12-13

3) Warning: The Lord set the consequences for disobedience 17:14

c. Pledge of the Covenant: The Lord changed Sarai’s name to Sarah as a pledge that the seed would come from her and would not be Ishmael, even through he too would be blessed 17:15-22

1) Name Change: The Lord changed Sarai’s name to Sarah as a pledge that she would be fruitful 17:15-17

a) Renamed: The Lord renamed Sarai Sarah 17:15

b) Promise: The Lord promised that she would be blessed as the mother of nations and kings 17:16

c) Laughter: Abraham laughed over the prospects 17:17

2) Promises: In response to Abraham’s plea for Ishmael, the Lord promised to bless him too but affirmed that the promise would come through Isaac 17:18-21

a) Abraham’s Plea: Abraham pleaded for Ishmael 17:18

b) God’s Promise--Isaac: The Lord promised that Sarah would bear a son, Isaac, who would be the heir 17:19

c) God’s Promise--Ishmael: The Lord promised to bless Ishmael with abundant fruitfulness, including twelve princes, but reserved the covenant for Isaac 17:20-21

3) Narrative Framework: The Lord withdrew after speaking 17:22

d. Abraham’s Obedience: Abraham obeyed the Lord’s instructions to circumcise every male in his household, being circumcised himself on the same day as Ishmael, his son 17:23-37

G. Abraham Intercedes for the Promise: When the Lord comes to announce the fulfillment of the promise, Abraham demonstrates his faith through hospitality and pleads with the Lord on behalf of the righteous in Sodom, whereupon the Lord judges wicked Sodom, but delivers Lot and his daughters who subsequently engage in incest and produce the progenitors of the Moabites and Ammonites 18:1--19:38

1. God’s Marvelous Work for His Covenant People--The Three Visitors: After sharing a meal prepared by the household of Abraham, the Lord announced the fulfillment of the promise, declaring in rebuke of Sarah’s laughter, that nothing is too hard for the Lord 18:1-15

a. The Lord and Communal Meal: The Lord appeared to Abraham at Mamre and shared a communal meal prepared by the patriarch and his household 18:1-8

1) Visitors Appeared: Three visitors appeared at Mamre and received rest and refreshment from Abraham 18:1-5

a) Narrative Introduction: The Lord appeared to Abraham 18:1

b) Report of the Reception of the Guests: Abraham received the three visitors and persuaded them to rest with him 18:2-5

2) Visitors and Meal: The three visitors enjoyed a meal prepared hastily by Abraham and his household 18:6-8

b. Announcement: The Lord announced the time of the fulfillment of the promise, declaring, in rebuke of Sarah’s laughter, that nothing was too hard for the Lord 18:9-15

1) Interrogation and Annunciation: The Lord announced that the fulfillment of the promise was imminent 18:9-12

a) Interrogation: The Lord inquired about Sarah, and Abraham responded 18:9

b) Announcement: The Lord announced that the birth was imminent, but Sarah laughed over the prospects 18:10-12

2) Rebuke and Annunciation: The Lord Rebuked Sarah for laughing and reiterated the annunciation 18:13-14

a) Rebuke: The Lord rebuked Sarah for laughing 18:13

b) Annunciation: The Lord reiterated the annunciation, declaring that nothing was too hard for the Lord 18:14

3) Denial and Rebuke: In response to Sarah’s denial that she laughed, the Lord affirmed that she did indeed laugh 18:15

2. The Intercession of Abraham before the Righteous Judge: After contemplating the reasons for telling Abraham of his plans for Sodom, the Lord announced that he was about to investigate the wickedness of Sodom that cried out for judgment, an announcement that prompted Abraham to intercede for the city for the sake of the righteous 18:16-33

a. Divine Speeches: After the visitation at Mamre, the Lord contemplated the reasons for telling Abraham about his investigation of the wickedness of Sodom 18:16-21

1) Narrative Transition: After the visitation, Abraham escorted the three men on their way 18:16

2) Soliloquy: The Lord contemplated the reasons for telling Abraham of his plans for Sodom 18:17-19

a) Means of Blessing: Abraham would be the means of blessing for the world 18:18

b) Teacher of Righteousness: Abraham would be a teacher of righteousness 18:19

3) Announcement: the Lord declared that he was about to investigate the great sin of Sodom that cried out for judgment 18:20-21

b. Negotiation: Questioning God about the justice of destroying the righteous with the wicked, Abraham interceded for the city for the sake of the righteous in it, prompting the concession that it would not be destroyed if there were ten righteous people there 18:22-33

1) Questioned: Abraham questioned the Lord’s justice in destroying the righteous with the wicked 18:22-25

2) Interceded: Abraham interceded for Sodom for the sake of the righteous, drawing the concession form the Lord that the city would be spared if there were at least ten righteous people there 18:26-32

3) Returned: Abraham returned to his place when the Lord departed 18:33

3. The Judgment of Sodom: When the Lord destroyed the cities of the plain with fire and brimstone, he delivered Lot by means of two angels who had to protect themselves from the wicked people of the city, drag the reluctant Lot from the doomed place, and agree to give him a little town in the hills--a place that subsequently proved to be the birthplace of the ancestors of the Moabites and Ammonites 19:1-38

a. Angels in Sodom: When the angels visited Lot in Sodom, they repelled the threat from the wicked townspeople by striking them with blindness and warned Lot to gather his family and flee from the doomed city 19:1-14

1) Visitation: The angels visited Lot, who received them with hospitality 19:1-3

2) Protection: The angels prevented the wickedness of the townspeople by striking them with blindness 19:4-11

a) Challenge: The men of the town wanted Lot to give them the visitors in order that they might know them 19:4-5

b) Counteroffer: Lot offered his two virgin daughters in their place 19:6-8

c) Renewed Challenge: The men of the town ridiculed Lot’s hypocrisy and pressed harder for the men 19:9

d) Prevention: The angels struck the men with blindness 19:10-11

3) Announcement: The angels announced their mission to Sodom and warned Lot to flee with his family 19:12-14

a) Warning: The angels announced the destruction of the city and warned Lot to flee 19:12-13

b) Rebuke: Lot appeared to his sons-in-law to be a hypocrite and a mocker 19:14

b. Taking of Lot: When the angels dragged the hesitating Lot from the doomed city, they agreed to spare the little town of Zoar for him 19:15-22

1) Dragging of Lot: The angels had to drag Lot out of the city when he hesitated at their exhortation to flee 19:15-16

2) Saving of Zoar: The angels granted Lot the little town of Zoar when he negotiated for the concession before fleeing for his life 19:17-22

c. Judgment on Sodom: When the Lord destroyed the cities with fire and brimstone--and Lot’s wife who looked back--he spared Lot for the sake of Abraham 19:23-29

1) Destruction of Cities: The Lord destroyed the cities and everything in them with a great conflagration 19:23-25

2) Destruction of Lot’s Wife: Lot’s wife perished when she looked back to the city 19:26

3) Deliverance of Lot: The Lord delivered Lot for Abraham’s sake 19:27-29

a) Abraham Saw: Abraham saw the great destruction from far away 19:27-28

b) Lord Remembered: the Lord remembered Abraham and delivered Lot 19:29

d. Epilogue: The daughters of Lot, thinking that they were the last survivors on earth, arranged to be impregnated by their father and consequently produced the ancestors of the Moabites and Ammonites, Israel’s perennial enemies 19:30-38

1) Setting: Lot and his two daughters left Zoar to dwell in the cave because they were afraid 19:30

2) Scheme: The daughters of Lot, realizing that there were no husbands, succeeded in becoming impregnated by their father 19:31-36

3) Significance: The sons that were born to them were the ancestors of the Moabites and the Ammonites 19:37-38

H. Abraham Schemes to Protect the Promise--God Protects the Marriage: When Abimelech took Sarah in to his harem because of Abraham’s deception, God intervened to preserve Sarah’s purity, warning Abimelech to restore the woman to her husband, make restitution for the offense, and ask for intercession from Abraham the prophet 20:1-18

1. Complication: Abimelech took Sarah into his household when Abraham said she was his sister 20:1-2

2. Intervention: God alerted Abimelech in a dream that he had taken another man’s wife and, acknowledging the integrity of Abimelech’s actions, instructed him to restore her to her husband 20:3-7

a. Accusation: God informed Abimelech that he was under the sentence of death because he had taken another man’s wife 20:3

b. Self-Defense: Abimelech protested that he had acted with integrity in the matter 20:4-5

c. Instruction: Acknowledging Abimelech’s integrity and stating that he had prevented him from sinning, God instructed the king to restore the woman to her husband and ask him to intercede for him 20:6-7

1) Integrity: God had prevented “Abimelech from sinning because he knew that the man had acted in integrity 20:6

2) Restore: God instructed Abimelech to restore the woman to Abraham, who would pray for the king 20:7a

3) Warning: God warned that, if Abimelech did not restore her, he would surely die 20:7b

3. Vindication: Abimelech immediately obeyed God’s instruction by restoring Sarah to her husband and making restitution to this couple who had brought him into great danger 20:8-16

a. Narrative Transition: Abimelech reported this message to his household 20:8

b. Accusation: Abimelech remonstrated with Abraham over the deception that brought a great sin on him and his nation 20:9-10

c. Self-Defense: Abraham explained his fear of death at their hands, adding that Sarah was indeed his half-sister 20:11-13

d. Restitution: Abimelech restored Sarah to Abraham, making payment for the offense and granting permission to life in the land 20:14-16

1) Payment: Abimelech gave Abraham a large payment to make restitution for taking Sarah 20:14

2) Permission: Abimelech gave Abraham permission to dwell in the land 20:15

3) Payment: Abimelech gave payment of silver for Sarah and explained it in a rebuke to her 20:16

4. Intercession: Abraham interceded for the house of Abimelech, so that the divine judgment was withdrawn 20:17-18

I. The Promise Is Born: When the Lord fulfilled his word by providing Isaac, the child of promise, Abraham and Sarah responded by obediently circumcising him, praising the Lord, protecting him by casting out Ishmael, and making a covenant at Beersheba with Abimelech which allowed them to serve God in the land of promise 21:1-34

1. The Fulfillment of the Promise (Isaac) and the Removal of the Threat (Ishmael): When the Lord fulfilled his Word by providing Isaac, the child of promise, Abraham and Sarah responded with obedience and praise, but Ishmael became a threat to the promised heir, prompting his expulsion into the wilderness, where God provided for him and his mother 21:1-21

a. The Provision of Isaac: The Lord provided the child of promise to Abraham and to Sarah, who responded in faith by naming him Isaac, circumcising him according to the covenant, and praising God for this amazing fulfillment 21:1-7

1) Child: The Lord fulfilled his promise by providing the child for Sarah and Abraham in their old age 21:1-2

2) Obedience: Abraham obeyed God’s Word by naming the child Isaac and by circumcising him 21: 3-5

3) Rejoicing: Sarah rejoiced over Isaac, God’s gift of laughter to her 21:6-7

b. The Expulsion of Ishmael: God approved of Sarah’s instinct to protect the child of promise by expelling Ishmael and Hagar and then provided for the outcasts when they were in distress in the wilderness 21:8-19

1) First Crisis: Sarah realized that Ishmael posed a threat for the true heir 21:8-9

2) Resolution: With God’s approval, Abraham and Sarah decided to send away the slave woman and her son 21:10-13

a) Sarah’s Speech: Sarah told Abraham to send them away 21:10

b) Abraham’s Response: The matter grieved Abraham 21:11

c) God’s Oracle: God approved the plan to protect Isaac, promising to fulfill his promises to Ishmael 21:12-13

3) Second Crisis: When Hagar and Ishmael were sent out into the wilderness, they soon came to the point of perishing 21:14-16

4) Resolution: God rescued Hagar and Ishmael in the wilderness 21:17-19

a) God’s Oracle: God exhorted Hagar not to fear, for he had heard the cry and would fulfill his promise to Ishmael 21:17-18

b) God’s Provision: God directed them to water 21:19

c. Epilogue: God was with Ishmael, and he prospered in the wilderness 21:20-21

2. The Covenant at Beersheba: When Abraham prospered under the blessing of God, he agreed to make a treaty with Abimelech at Beersheba for peaceful coexistence, thereby enabling him to serve God in the Land of Promise 21:22-34

a. Agreement: Abraham, who prospered under the blessing of God , agreed to make a treaty with Abimelech 21:22-24

1) Request: Abimelech recognized that God was with Abraham and so asked for a treaty 21:22-23

2) Response: Abraham agreed to make a treaty 21:24

b. Previous Problem: Abraham accused Abimelech of stealing his well, but Abimelech exonerated himself before the covenant was made 21:25-27

1) Complaint: Abraham charged that Abimelech’s servants took his well 21:25

2) Response: Abimelech protested that he knew nothing about it

c. Solidifying One’s Right: Abraham solidified his right to the well by making an oath for the covenant 21:28-30

1) Preparation: Abraham set seven animals apart from the rest 21:28

2) Response: Abimelech inquired about the significance of the animals 21:29

3) Oath: Abraham explained that they were for a testimony that he had the rights to his well 21:30

d. Naming the Place: Abraham concluded the agreement with Abimelech by naming the place Beersheba and by planting a tree at the spot where he would worship God 21:31-34

1) Commemorative Naming: He named the place Beersheba because they swore in agreement 29:31

2) Peaceful Coexistence: Abimelech and his people returned to their home after the covenant was made 21:32

3) Established Worship: Abraham planted a tree and proclaimed the name of the Lord, the everlasting God, in the land of his sojournings

J. Promise is God’s not Abraham’s--The Sacrifice of Isaac: In obedience to the command of the Lord, Abraham took his beloved son to the land of Moriah in order to sacrifice him to the Lord, but because of Abraham’s obedience the angel of the Lord restrained him from making the sacrifice and swore to bless him, all of which prompted the patriarch to commemorate the place of sacrifice as “the Lord will provide” 22:1-19

1. Prologue: The narrator explains that the ordeal to follow was a test from God 22:1a

2. Ordeal: God commanded Abraham to offer his only and beloved son as a sacrifice on one of the mountains of Moriah 22:1b-2

a. Call: God called to Abraham 22:1b

b. Instruction: God commanded Abraham to offer his son and offer him as a sacrifice on one of the mountains of Moriah 22:2

3. Obedience: Abraham responded to God’s instructions in obedient faith by journeying to the place of worship and preparing Isaac for the sacrifice 22:3-10

a. Travel: Abraham traveled to the place that God had told him and took Isaac along up to the mountain to worship 22:3-5

1) Report: Abraham and his company traveled three days to the place that God had said 22:3-4

2) Speech: Abraham instructed the servants to wait while he and Isaac went up to worship 22:5

b. Preparation: Abraham prepared to offer Isaac on the mountain as a sacrifice to God 22:6-10

1) Report: Abraham and Isaac went together up the mountain 22:6

2) Dialogue: In response to the question of Isaac about the animal, Abraham explained that God would provide the animal 22:7-8

3) Report: Abraham bound Isaac as the sacrifice and prepared to slay him on the altar 22:9-10

4. Resolution: The angel of the Lord prevented Abraham from killing his son when the angel saw that he feared God, prompting the patriarch to sacrifice an animal instead of his son and to name the place in commemoration of the provision of the Lord, after which he received a solemn promise of God’s blessing 22:11-18

a. Call: The angel of the Lord called Abraham 22:11

b. Instruction: The angel of the Lord instructed Abraham not to kill his son, because he had demonstrated that he did fear God 22:12

c. Report: Abraham responded to the divine intervention by sacrificing a ram that the Lord had provided and by commemorating the place with the name “the Lord provides”--to which a proverb was added 22:13-14

1) Offering: Abraham offered the ram instead of his sin 22:13

2) Naming: Abraham named the place, “the Lord provides” 22:14a

3) Proverb: A proverb was added to this incident: “In the mount of the Lord it will be seen” 22:14b

d. Blessing: The angel of the Lord swore to fulfill the promises to Abraham and his seed because he did not withhold his son from God 22:15-18

5. Epilogue: Abraham and his company returned to Beersheba 22:19

K. Abraham Commits Himself to God’s Promise: Even though Abraham receives word from his brother that God has greatly blessed him with twelve sons, he does not leave the land but demonstrates his intention to remain in the place that God has promised by buying the cave of Machpelah as a burial site for Sarah upon her death 22:20--23

1. The Descendants of Nahor--A Telegram from Home:20 After Abraham had gone to offer his son Isaac he received word from home that his brother, Nahor, had borne twelve children, eight through his wife Milcah, and four through his concubine, Reumah 22:20-24

a. Setting: Abraham received word from his brother, Nahor, after he had gone to offer Isaac 22:20a

b. Blessing to Nahor through Milchah: Abraham learned that the wife of his brother Nahor, Milcah, had borne eight children to him: 22:20b-23

1) Uz was Nahor’s first-born

2) Buz was Nahor’s second-born

3) Kemuel, the father of Aram, was Nahor’s third-born

4) Other children were Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel (who became the father of Rebekah)21

c. Blessing to Nahor through Reumah: Abraham learned that Reumah, Hahor’s concubine, also bore him four children--Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah 22:24

2. The Purchase of the Cave of Machpelah: When Sarah, the wife of Abraham, Died, Abraham purchased a family burial site in the land of Canaan from its owners, demonstrating his intention to remain in the place that God had promised 23:1-20

a. Mourning: Abraham mourned over the death of Sarah his wife 23:1-2

1) Death Report: Sarah died at the age of 127 23:1-2a

2) Mourning: Abraham mourned for Sarah his wife 23:2b

b. Securing a Family Burial Plot: After obtaining permission to purchase a family burial spot in the land of Canaan, and after negotiating with the owners for the precise area, Abraham secured the field and the cave at Machpelah for a possession 23:3-8

1) Permission: Abraham received permission from the Hittites who owned the land to bury his dead in the best grave they had 23:3-6

2) Agreement: Abraham obtained Ephron’s agreement to sell the cave of Machpelah to him in which to bury his dead 23:7-11

3) Legal Procedure: Abraham legally acquired the field and the cave of Machpelah for four hundred shekels 23:12-18

a) Urging to Sell: Abraham urged Ephron to sell him the territory 23:12-13

b) Agreement: Ephron agreed to sell it for four hundred shekels 23:14-15

c) Purchase: Abraham purchased the territory from Ephron in the presence of all those who were sitting in the gate 23:16-18

c. Burial: Abraham buried Sarah in the cave in the land of Canaan--his newly acquired possession 23:19-20

d. Abraham Transfers the Promise to Isaac: Abraham prepares to transfer the blessing to Isaac by sending his servant under God’s providential guidance to acquire Rebekah to be Isaac’s wife from the descendants of Shem and by sending away his concubines whereupon he gives the family inheritance to Isaac before he dies and the Lord confirms it by blessing Isaac 24--25:11

3. Preparation--The Choosing of a Bride for Isaac: Entrusted with the responsibility of finding a bride for Isaac and trusting the Lord’s covenantal faithfulness to prosper his way, the servant of Abraham faithfully and resolutely carried out his task under the providential guidance of the Lord, so that he acquired Rebekah to be Isaac’s wife 24:1-67

a. Entrusting a Servant: Abraham solemnly entrusted the responsibility of finding a wife for his son to his servant 24:1-9

1) Introduction: Abraham was old and enjoyed the blessing of God 24:1

2) Commission: Abraham solemnly entrusted the finding of a wife for Isaac to his obedient servant 24:2-8

3) Oath: The servant took the oath 24:9

b. Finding Rebekah: When the faithful servant arrived in the land of the relatives, he prayed for a sign of God’s guidance and then praised God for sending Rebekah as the chosen one 24:10-27

1) Introduction: In the region of the relatives, the servant settled down by a well 24:10-11

2) Prayer: The servant prayed that the Lord would show his faithful love by sending out a young girl to give him drink and to water his camels 24:12-14

3) Resolution: The Lord sent out Rebekah to the well as the answer to the servant’s prayer, for she showed kindness and kinship 24:15-25

4) Worship: The servant acknowledged the Lord’s faithfulness in leading him to his place 24:26-27

c. Securing Rebekah: When the servant was welcomed into Laban’s household, he faithfully discharged his duty to secure Rebekah as Isaac’s wife before enjoying their hospitality ,recounting in the process how the Lord had led him there 24:28-60

1) Introduction The girl hurried to tell her family 24:28-29

2) Complication: Laban extended hospitality to the servant so that he might rest and receive refreshment 24:30-33a

3) Resolution: The servant refused to accept hospitality until he had discharged his duty to acquire a wife for Isaac 24:22b-53

4) Complication: Laban and Rebekah’s mother stalled over the time of departure 24:54-55

5) Resolution: The servant’s perseverance and the girl’s willingness to go resolved the complication 24:56-60

d. The Return with Rebekah: Rebekah returned with the servant and became Isaac’s wife 24:61-67

1) Introduction: They journeyed with the servant back to the land 24:61

2) Meeting: Rebekah met Isaac when he was out in the field meditating 24:62-65

3) Culmination: Rebekah became the wife of Isaac through the providential dealings of the Lord 24:66-67

4. Transfer--Abraham’s Death and Isaac’s Inheritance: Before he died, Abraham ensured that the covenantal blessing would belong to Isaac by sending away his concubine’s sons; after he died, the Lord confirmed this decision by blessing Isaac 25:1-11

a. Father Many Nations: After Sarah’s death Abraham fathered sons who became ancestors of several Arabian tribes, thus fulfilling the promise that he would be the father of many nations22 25:1-4

b. Protecting Isaac: Abraham gave the family inheritance to Isaac, but he gave gifts to the sons of the concubines and sent them away 25:5-6

c. Death of Abraham: Abraham died in peace, enriched by the Lord’s blessing, and was buried by Isaac and Ishmael in the cave of Machpelah 25:7-10

d. Blessing of Isaac: After the Abraham’s death, the Lord blessed Isaac as he dwelt in Beer Lahai Roi 25:11

VIII. WHAT BECAME OF ISHMAEL:23 Ishmael, the son of Abraham through Hagar, became a large people with twelve princes over tribes before he died at 137 years of age and his people settled from Havilah to Shur which is east of Egypt as one goes toward Assyria in defiance of all his relatives (Israel) 25:12-18

A. Title: This is what became (tôledôt) of Ishmael 25:12a

B. Identification: Ishmael was Abraham’s son whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s maid, bore to Abraham 25:12b

C. Descendants: The descendants of Israel are shown to be many--twelve princes and tribes 25:13-16

1. Preview: The following are the names of the sons of Ishmael in order of their birth 25:13a

2. First-Born: Nebaioth was the first-born of Ishmael 25:13b

3. Other Sons: Other sons of Ishmael were Kedar,Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dunah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, Kedemah 25:13c-15

4. Summary: The sons of Ishmael have been presented by their villages and their camps equalling twelve princes according to their tribes 16

D. Death of Ishmael: Ishmael lived for 137 years and then died and was gathered to his people who settled from Havilah to Shur which is east of Egypt as one goes toward Assyria in defiance of all his relatives (Israel) 25:17-18

IX. WHAT BECAME OF ISAAC: Through inner, outer, and then inner encounters of deception which God must overrule Jacob, the descendant of Isaac, becomes the heir of the Abrahamic Promise giving birth to twelve sons and worshiping God in the Promised Land 25:19--35:29

A. Title: This is what became (tôledôt) of Isaac 25:19a

B. The First Cycle--In the Land (Jacob and Esau): Although the oracle of promise was passed on to the younger son of Isaac, Jacob and his descendants, it was transferred through Isaac, the proper channel, under the deception and manipulation of Jacob who fled from his angry and profane brother Esau, but was promised blessing by the Lord at Bethel 25:19--28:22

1. The Creation and Election of the Seed--The Birth of Esau and Jacob: After twenty years of barrenness, God answered Isaac’s prayers and gave Rebekah two sons, Esau and Jacob, declaring that two nations would come from them and that the elder would serve the younger 25:19-26

a. Prologue: Isaac, the son of Abraham, was forty years old when he married Rebekah, a relative form his father’s homeland 25:19b-20

b. Rebekah Becomes Pregnant: In response to Isaac’s diligent prayer concerning his wife’s barrenness, the Lord enabled Rebekah to become pregnant 25:21

c. An Oracle: In response to Rebekah’s inquiry concerning the turmoil in her womb, the Lord revealed that her two sons, like the two nations that would come from them, would struggle against each other and that the elder would serve the younger 25:22-23

d. Birth of the Twins: When the twins were born, the first was named Esau because of his appearance, and the second was named Jacob because of his activity 25:24-26a

e. Epilogue: Isaac was sixty years old when the boys were born 25:26a

2. The Sale of the Birthright--The Manipulation of Jacob: Without regard for the benefits of the firstborn, Esau, the cunning hunter, swore to sell the birthright to the crafty Jacob for a meal of red stuff, a description that was appropriate to his nature 25:27-34

a. Nature of the Sons: Esau became a cunning hunter and the favorite of his father, who enjoyed wild game, but Jacob became an even-tempered man, loved by Rebekah 25:27-28

b. Esau’s Choice: When Esau came in from the open country famished and found Jacob preparing red soup, he greedily asked for some ‘red stuff’ to eat--the designation of which food was appropriate to his character and that of his descendants 25:29-30

c. Esau’s Pledge: Esau swore to give Jacob his birthright in exchange for the red soup 25:31-33

1) Jacob’s Hunt: Jacob forced Esau to sell him his birthright before he would give him the soup 25:31

2) Esau’s Response: Esau considered his birthright worthless at this point 25:32

3) Jacob’s Insistence: Jacob forced Esau to confirm the sale 25:33

d. Esau’s Disdain for the Birthright: Having sworn to relinquish his birthright, Esau gulped down the food and left, thus demonstrating his disdain for the birthright 25:34

3. Continuity through Isaac:24 Isaac shows himself to be the seed of blessing through Abraham in that God renewed the Abrahamic covenant with him, protected Rebekah from Abimelech as He had Sarah, and prospered him in the land 26:1-23

a. The Preservation of the Faith through Isaac: When God prevented Isaac from leaving the land promised to Abraham, his obedient father, God renewed the covenant with him but then had to protect Rebekah from Abimelech when Isaac lied about her 26:1-11

1) Exhortation to Remain in Land: The Lord prevented Isaac from abandoning the land in the famine, by confirming to him the covenant promises he had made with his father, Abraham 1-6

a) Narrative Introduction: When a famine began, Isaac left Canaan and went to Abimelech, king of the Philistines, at Gerar 26:1

b) Theophany: The Lord appeared to Isaac and commanded him not to leave Canaan, in order that the Lord might confirm the covenant made with Abraham his father 26:2-5

c) Obedience: Isaac Obeyed the Lord by remaining in Gerar 26:6

2) Deceit by Isaac: After Isaac deceived the men of Gerar about his wife’s true identity, Abimelech discovered the deceit, rebuked Isaac for putting his people in moral jeopardy, and forewarned his people not to touch them 26:7-11

a) The Plot: Isaac hid the true identity of Rebekah by representing her as his sister because he feared a personal attack 21:7

b) The Detection: After a long time Abimelech discovered the deceit when he saw Isaac engaging in conjugal play with Rebekah 21:8

c) The Rebuke: Abimelech confronted Isaac and rebuked him for his deceit 21:9-10

d) The Resolution: Abimelech commanded his people not to harm Isaac or Rebekah, on the penalty of death 21:11

b. The Blessing of Water in the Wilderness: The Lord confirmed his promise to bless Abraham’s seed by providing crops, flocks, servants, and especially water in the wilderness wells that Isaac dug, in spite of the unjust opposition from Gerar, ultimately enabling him to dwell in peace in Beersheba 26:12-33

1) Blessing and Opposition: The Lord’s abundant blessing on Isaac brought opposition from the men of Gerar, hindering him from living peacefully among the people of Gerar 26:12-16

a) Envied Isaac: The Philistines envied Isaac because of the great prosperity that the Lord gave him 26:12-14

b) Stopped Up Well: The Philistines had stopped up all the wells that were dug in the days of Abraham 26:15

c) Drove Isaac Away: The Philistines drove Isaac away because he was becoming mightier than they 26:16

2) Opposition and Blessing: Isaac’s attempts to reclaim the wells of his father met strong opposition until he moved from Gerar river basin and dug an uncontested well 27:17-22

a) Reopening Wells: Isaac attempted to settle in the Gerar valley but met with conflict over the water rights 26:17-21

b) Uncontested Well: After leaving the Gerar basin, Isaac opened an uncontested well and named it Room because the Lord had given them a place 26:22

3) Confirmation of Faith: Isaac’s faith in the Lord’s promise at Beersheba was confirmed by an oath of peace with his enemies and the discovery of another well of water 26:23-33

a) Appearance of the Lord: The Lord appeared to Isaac at Beersheba to renew the promise of blessing, prompting Isaac to worship the Lord and make preparations to dwell there 26:23-25

b) Oath of Peace: The people of Gerar obtained an oath of peace form Isaac because they recognized that the Lord was with him 26:26-31

c) Naming of Well: When his servants found water that same day, Isaac named the well Oath--the event from which the city of Beersheba in part derived its name 26:32-33

4. The Deception for the Blessing: In swift reaction to Isaac’s disobedient plans to bless Esau, the disqualified son, Jacob, in conspiracy with Rebekah, deceptively took the blessing by passing himself off as his brother, an act that resulted in the bitter anger of Esau, who could only be given a lesser blessing and who therefore planned to kill Jacob, and the flight of the deceiver--albeit with his father’s blessing 26:34--28:9

a. Prologue: Esau continued to show his disregard for the divine oracle and for his parents by marrying into the Canaanite line 26:34-35

b. Deception within the Family (Cause): In disobedience Isaac prepared to bless his older son Esau, prompting Rebekah and Jacob to take matters into their own hands by deceiving Isaac for the blessing 27:1-29

1) Scene One--The Disobedience of Isaac and Esau: Believing that he was about to die, Isaac prepared to bless his older son, contrary to the oracle, but Rebekah overheard the plan 27:1-5

2) Scene Two--The Deception of Rebekah and Jacob: Having found out about Isaac’s plans, Rebekah and Jacob conspired to gain the blessing through deception 27:6-17

3) Scene Three--The Theft of the Blessing: Impersonating Esau, Jacob passed Isaac’s tests and received the blessing of the firstborn 27:18-29

c. Distress Within the Family (Effect): When Esau, filled with bitter anxiety over being tricked out of the blessing, plotted to kill his younger brother, Rebekah persuaded Isaac to send Jacob away to get a wife in Paddan Aram 27:30--28:5

1) Scene Four--The distress of Isaac and Esau: After Esau returned with the game, he and his father were distressed to learn that Jacob had deceptively taken the blessing, leaving only an antiblessing for his brother 27:30-40

2) Scene Five--The Distress of Rebekah and Jacob: As a result of the stolen blessing Esau threatened to kill Jacob, prompting Rebekah to advise him to leave for a while 27:41-45

3) Scene Six--The giving of the Blessing: Isaac sent Jacob to Paddan Aram to get a wife, giving him the full Abrahamic blessing 27:46--28:5

d. Epilogue: Esau, realizing his error and his parents, remarried into the line of Ishmael 28:6-9

5. Transition--The Vision at Bethel: After the Lord appeared at the top of an angel-filled stairway, restating the Abrahamic promises and further promising to bless and protect him, Jacob fearfully acknowledged God’s presence and then at dawn set up the stone as a memorial, named the place Bethel, and vowed that, if God did indeed bless and protect him, he would worship him in that place 28:10-22

a. Promises from the Lord: Appearing in a dream at the top of an angel filled stairway to the weary traveler Jacob, who had stopped at an unnamed place, the Lord confirmed the Abrahamic promises to him and promised to bless and protect him during his journey 28:10-15

1) Stopping at an Unnamed Place: On his journey from Beersheba to Haran, Jacob stopped at sundown at an unnamed place and, after preparing a stone for his sleeping place, went to sleep 28:10-11

2) Lord’s Appearance: Appearing to Jacob in a dream, the Lord confirmed the Abrahamic promises to him and further promised to bless and protect him on his journey 28:12-15

b. Jacob’s Response: Awakening from his dream, Jacob fearfully acknowledged the Lord’s presence; at dawn he set up the stone as a memorial named the place Bethel, and vowed that, if God did indeed bless and protect him, he would worship him in that place 28:16-22

1) Acknowledged The Lord’s Presence: Awakening from his dream, Jacob fearfully acknowledged the Lord’s presence in that holy place 26:16-17

2) Set Up a Memorial: Arising at dawn, Jacob set up the stone as a memorial, poured oil on its top, and named the place Bethel 28:18-19

3) Vowed: Jacob vowed that , if the Lord did indeed bless and protect him, then he would worship the Lord in that place 28:20-22

C. The Second Cycle--Outside of the Land (Jacob and Laban): When Jacob entered Paddan Aram he married Leah and Rachel, had twelve sons, and prospered, but all under the deception of Laban who in the end had to allow Jacob to return to the land 29:1--31:55

1. Jacob’s Marriages and Laban’s Deception: After meeting Rachel at the well, where, in spite of its strictly regulated use and the reluctance of the shepherds to accommodate him, he moved the stone and watered the flocks, and after serving Laban seven years for Rachel, Jacob was deceived by Laban into marrying Leah, the firstborn, and had to serve another seven years for Rachel 29:1-30

a. Travel: Encouraged by God’s blessing, Jacob traveled until he came to a well where three flocks were waiting to be watered 29:1-3

b. Coming of Rachel: Jacob learned from the shepherds that his journey was almost over and that his cousin Rachel was coming with her flock 29:4-6

c. Removing the Stone: Jacob failed to get the shepherds to remove the stone and water the sheep, and so when Rachel arrived he removed the stone himself, watered the sheep, and in an emotional outburst, kissed her 29:7-11

d. Revealed Identity: Jacob revealed his identity to Rachel and was warmly welcomed into the house of Laban 29:12-14

2. Deception of Jacob: After serving Laban seven years for Rachel, Jacob was deceived by Laban and found himself married to Leah, the first born, and was able to marry Rachel only when he agreed to serve seven more years 29:15-30

a. Agreement; After being welcomed into Laban’s household, Jacob agreed to serve seven years for Rachel, whom he loved 29:15-19

b. Deceived: After completing the seven years of service, Jacob claimed his bride but was deceived into marrying Leah and had to serve seven more years for Rachel 29:20-30

3. The Mishandling of God’s Blessing--The Contest of Childbearing: God formed the family of Jacob, the founders of the tribes of Israel, in fulfillment of his promises at Bethel, even though Jacob and his wives lived in envy and friction over how God chose to bless them 29:31--30:24

a. Leah and Fours Sons: God responded to Leah’s plight with the births of four sons, all the while withholding the blessing from Rachel because of Jacob’s unfair treatment of Leah 29:31-35

1) Opening of Leah’s Womb: God took notes of Leah’s plight and opened her womb but withheld the blessing form Rachel 29:31

2) Fours Sons: God gave four sons to Leah, who responded appropriately in faith 29:32-35a

3) Cease Bearing: Leah ceased bearing children 29:35c

b. Rachel’s Competition through Bilhah: Filled with envy over her sister’s fruitfulness, Rachel complained to Jacob and then competed with Leah by bearing children through Bilhah, which she correctly recognized as God’s blessing 30:1-8

1) Complaint: Rachel complained of her barrenness to Jacob 30:1-2

2) Competition: Rachel competed with Leah by giving her maid, Bilhah, to Jacob to bear children for her 30:3-8

c. Leah’s Counter-Competition through Zilpah: Responding to Rachel’s use of her maid, Leah continued the competition by giving her maid, Zilpah, to Jacob and finding success in the births of two more children 30:9-13

1) Maid to Jacob: Leah gave Jacob her maid 30::9

2) Two Sons: Leah received two sons through Zilpah and expressed pleasure in her success 30:10-13

d. Continued Competition--Leah Blessed: Rachel and Leah both expressed their discontent and continued to seek to outdo each other in having children; God responded to Leah by granting her two more sons and a daughter 30:14-21

1) Discontent: Rachel and Leah expressed their discontent and arranged for the acquisition of Jacob with the mandrakes 30:14-15

2) Blessing of Leah: God blessed Leah with three more children 30:16-23

e. Rachel Blessed: God remembered Rachel and ended her barrenness with the birth of Joseph--which prompted her to pray for another son 30:22-24

4. The Blessing of Prosperity: When Jacob agreed to continue serving Laban in exchange for the odd-colored animals of the flock, God sovereignly overruled both the deceit of Laban and the devices of Jacob in order to bless the patriarch 30:25-43

a. Agreement: When Jacob completed his service for Laban’s daughters but realized that he had gained little substance for his family, he agreed to serve longer in exchange for the odd-colored animals 30:25-34

1) Desire to Leave: When Jacob wished to leave with the women and children for whom he had labored, Laban desired that he stay--so that Laban could continue to enjoy God’s blessing 30:25-28

2) Laban’s Agreement: When Jacob complained that God had blessed Laban abundantly but that he had nothing, Laban agreed to pay his wages 30:29-31a

3) Jacob’s Plan: When Jacob set forth his plan to work for the odd-colored animals of the flock, Laban agreed 30:31b-34

b. Jacob’s Manipulation: Desiring to outwit the deceitful Laban, Jacob employed questionable breeding practices in order to produce odd-colored animals for himself 30:35-43

1) Removal of Odd-Colored Animals: Laban cleverly removed all the odd-colored animals from the flock and placed them a good distance away 30:35-36

2) Questionable Breeding Habits: Jacob employed questionable breeding practices to produce the animals for himself 30:37-42

3) Blessing: Jacob became more and more prosperous 30:41-42

5. Jacob’s flight from Laban and God’s Protection: Motivated by Laban’s resentment and encouraged by the agreement of his wives, Jacob obeyed the Lord’s command to leave for Canaan; and when angrily accused by Laban, who overtook them in Gilead, Jacob defended his record of faithful service and accused Laban of deceitful practices thereby silencing Laban and prompting him to press for a peace treaty at the border 31:1-55

a. Departure: Because of mounting resentment from Laban’s family and in obedience to the Lord’s command, Jacob and his family departed secretly for the land of Canaan 31:1-21

1) Decision to Return: Jacob decided to return when he perceived the mounting resentment and received the call from the Lord 31:1-3

2) Agreement of Wives: Jacob’s wives wholeheartedly agreed to leave with Jacob when they heard his speech, acknowledging that Laban had mistreated Jacob and robbed them of their dowries 31:4-16

3) Secret Departure: Jacob and his family secretly stole away from Laban to return to Canaan--and Rachel stole Laban’s gods 31:17-21

b. Laban’s Response: After hotly pursuing Jacob to Gilead and being warned in a dream not to harm him, Laban was unable to prove his accusations, but Jacob defended his record of faithful service and accused Laban of treachery, leaving Laban only to negotiate for a treaty 31:22-55

1) Laban’s Pursuit: Laban hotly pursued Jacob to Gilead but was warned in a dream not to interfere with Jacob’s migration 31:22-25

2) Laban’s Judicial Encounter: Laban’s attempt to engage Jacob in a judicial encounter backfired when Jacob successfully defended himself and brought his counterclaim 31:26-42

3) Negotiation of a Peace Treaty: Jacob and Laban negotiated a piece treaty at Galeed, swearing before God not to approach the other for harmful purposes 31:43-54

4) Departure of Laban: Laban departed in peach 31:55

D. The Third Cycle--In the Land (Jacob and Esau): As Jacob re-enters the Promised Land he learns again about the evil of deception in his meeting of Isaac and the revenge of his sons; whereupon he returns to Bethel to receive the confirmation of the promises, the completion of his family and where he endures the deaths of Deborah, Rachel and Isaac as well as the presumptuous sin of Reuben 32:1--35:29

1. Meeting Esau: Jacob met Esau through preparing an unnecessary gift as an attempt to appease him, through a fight with the Lord which overtly affirmed that God is the one who fights his battles (Israel), and by experiencing a peaceful reconciliation with his brother as an example of God’s fighting 32:1--33:20

a. An Unnecessary Gift as an Attempt at Appeasement: In spite of the vision of the messengers of God, when Jacob learned from his messengers that Esau and 400 men were coming to meet him, he divided his people into two camps as a precaution; even though he prayed earnestly for the Lords deliverance, he sought to pacify his brother’s anger with a gift of 550 animals 32:1-21

1) Messengers of God: The Messengers of God met Jacob in the way, prompting him to name the place to commemorate the vision 32:1-2

2) Jacob’s Fearful Division: Jacob then sent messengers to his brother Esau but, upon hearing that Esau was coming with four hundred men, divided his camp out of fear 32:3-8

3) Jacob’s Prayer: Jacob then prayed earnestly for deliverance from Esau, reminding God of his promises and expressing his own unworthiness 32:9-12

4) Jacob’s Manipulative Gifts: Hoping to pacify his brother, Jacob sent a gift of 550 animals with his servants, who were to present them to Esau 32:13-21

b. The Fight with YHWH--Jacob at the Jabbok, Israel at Peniel: After wrestling Jacob all night at the river Jabbok without prevailing over him, the Lord dislocated the patriarch’s hip and blessed him by changing his name to Israel, prompting Jacob to name the place Peniel to commemorate his seeing God face to face and being delivered (the incident was also commemorated in Israel’s dietary laws) 32:22-32

1) The Preparation: After Jacob sent all his family and possessions across the river, he was left alone 32:22-34a

2) Fight: After wrestling with Jacob until daybreak and being unable to defeat him, a “man” touched and dislocated his hip 32:24b-25

3) The Conversation: When Jacob clung to the man for a blessing, Jacob had his name changed to Israel but was unable to discover the name of the one who blessed him 32:26-29

4) The Evaluation and Conclusion: Jacob evaluated the event by naming the place Peniel because he saw God face to face and was delivered and then crossed over Peniel as the sun rose upon him, but he was limping 32:30-31

5) Editorial Note: The children of Israel did not eat the sinew of the hip because it was touched in the struggle 32:32

c. The Peaceful Reconciliation with Esau: Although Jacob was prepared to sacrifice part of his family in conflict with Esau and although he treated his brother as his lord, Esau magnanimously welcomed his brother home, reluctantly received Jacob’s gift, and offered to accompany them all to Seir--an offer that Jacob deceitfully ignored as he traveled to Succoth and settled down there 33:1-20

1) The Meeting: Jacob anxiously prepared for the meeting with his brother, but Esau enthusiastically and joyfully welcomed him and reluctantly accepted the large gift that Jacob had sent 33:1-11

a) Esau: In spite of Jacob’s division of his family in the face of danger and his acts of obeisance to his brother, Esau warmly embraced his brother 33:1-7

b) Jacob: In spite of Esau’s protests, Jacob pressed his brother to accept the gift that he had sent along, asserting that God had both blessed him and delivered him 33:8-11

2) Jacob’s Deception: Jacob agreed to follow his brother back to Seir at a slower pace, but then turned and went to Succoth 33:12-17

3) Epilogue: Jacob returned to Canaan, bought land at Shechem and established an altar there 33:18-20

2. The Defilement of Dinah from the Pagans: After Dinah was defiled by the uncircumcised Shechem, the sons of Jacob gained revenge by deceitfully inducing the Shechemites to accept circumcision as the condition of the marriage, thus enabling them to slaughter the incapacitated males of the city 34:1-31

a. Dinah’s Rape: When Dinah went to see the Canaanite women, she was raped by Shechem, the son of Hamor, the Hivite prince 34:1-3

b. Deceptive Intermarriage: When Hamor and Shechem bargained for the intermarriage of the people of Jacob and the people of Shechem, Jacob’s sons deceitfully induced the Shechemites to accept circumcision as the condition for intermarriage 34:4-24

c. Evil of Simeon and Levi: Simeon and Levi ruthlessly destroyed all the incapacitated males of the city, delivered their sister Dinah, and plundered the city, causing Jacob to fear for their lives 34:25-31

3. The Return of Jacob to Bethel: Reminded of his commitment, Jacob returned to the land to worship at Bethel, where he received the confirmation of the promises from the Lord and the completion of his family through the birth of Benjamin; but in the process he had to endure the deaths of Deborah, Rachel, and Isaac, as well as the presumptuous sins of Reuben 35:1-29

a. Return to Bethel: In obedience to God’s reminder of his unfulfilled vow, Jacob returned to Bethel, where he consecrated his family to worship the Lord and mourn the death of Deborah 35:1-8

b. Confirmation of the Promises: In response to Jacob’s compliance, God confirmed the promises of the covenant to him 35:9-15

c. Completion of Family: When Jacob returned to the Promised Land, his family was completed with the birth of Benjamin (the twelfth son), but he had to endure the deaths of Rachel and Isaac and the sin of Reuben 35:16-29

X. WHAT BECAME OF ESAU:25 Through this genealogy Esau is shown to be a great and powerful warlord conquering nations--Esau is Edom, but Jacob has only 12 sons, no kings, tribes, or land to speak of confirming that worldly greatness is swifter than spiritual greatness which requires a long process of refining 36:1--37:1

A. Title: This is what became (tôledôt) of Esau who is Edom: 31:1a

B. The Blessing of Esau: Esau is a great and powerful warlord conquering nations 36:1-43

1. Three Wives and Five Sons: Esau had 3 major wives26--Adah, Oholibamah and Basemath--and five sons in Canaan before he moved to Seir: 36:1-8

a. Of these wives he had five sons: Eliphaz from the first, Ruel from the second, and three from the third: Jeush, Jolam, and Korah

b. He had all of these in Canaan before he moved to Seir

2. Father of the Edomites: Esau was the father of the Edomites in Seir 36:9-19

a. Sons and Grandsons: The sons of Esau also had sons, five from Eliphas and Amalek by a concubine, four from Ruel. Thus Esau had five sons and ten “grandsons”

b. Chiefs: Thirteen (omitting Eliphaz and Reuel) are called “chiefs”

3. Esau and the Edomites: Esau is overlord of the sons of Seir the Horite in the land: 36:20-29

a. The are the aboriginal Edomites (Horites) conquered by Esau (cf. Deut. 2:12)

b. There are seven sons who became “chiefs,” and from these seven come twenty-one sons or daughters (tribes)

4. The kings of Edom 36:31-327

a. There eight names in this line of kings

b. The organization of the clans in Edom must have paralleled that of Israel, ultimately choosing a king from one of the tribes and carrying a line of succession

5. The chiefs from Esau (40-43)

a. Lists the chiefs who came of Esau according to their families, after their places, by their names

b. Eleven names are entered: they seem to be districts

C. Jacob by contrast: Jacob lived in the land of Canaan where his father sojourned 37:1

D. XWHAT BECAME OF JACOB: Although Joseph, Jacob’s son, was severely tested, he showed himself to be the faithful wise ruler whom God was able to use to preserve the line of blessing and to bring them down to Egypt where the prophecies could be fulfilled after the death of the patriarchs 37:2--50:26

E. Title: This is what became of (tôledôt) Jacob 37:2a

F. Cycle One--The Testing of Joseph:28 Through severe tests by Joseph’s family, employers, and cell-mates, Joseph is revealed to be a man of integrity, unlike Judah, whom God and man can trust and God thus exalts him to rulership with Pharaoh over Egypt 37:2b--41

1. Election and Rejection of Joseph:29 Although Joseph was chosen by Jacob and God to be the leader of his brothers, his brothers rejected him and sold him into slavery, but he was alive and well in Egypt 37:2b-36

a. Election--The Sovereign Choice of the Wise Leader: When Joseph faithfully brought back the bad report about his bothers, his father demonstrated his love for this son of his old age by giving him preferential treatment, but his brothers hated him; and when the Lord confirmed Joseph’s selection for leadership through two dreams, his father was perplexed, but his brothers hated him all the more 37:2b-11

1) The Favor of Joseph: Joseph, while tending the family flock with his brothers, brought back an evil report about their activity, for which he enjoyed preferential treatment from his father but endured hatred from his brothers 37:2b-4

2) God’s Confirmation: Joseph reported two dreams that symbolically revealed he would rise to prominence over his family, causing his father to rebuke him and his brothers to hate him all the more 37:5-11

a) First Dream: Joseph reported having a dream that symbolically (using sheaves) foretold his rise to prominence 37:5-8

b) Second Dream: Joseph reported another dream that reiterated symbolically (using sun, moon, and stars) that he would rise to prominence over his family 37:9-11

b. Rejection--The Selling of the Chosen into Bondage: When Jacob sent Joseph to check on the welfare of his brothers, his brothers plotted to kill him and end his dreams but decided rather to sell him and deceive their father into thinking an evil beast devoured him; in spite of the painful success of their plan, however, Joseph was alive and well in Egypt 37:12-36

1) Faithful Servant: Joseph, in obedience to Israel’s request, went to inquire of the welfare of his brothers in Shechem and, with the help of a certain man, found them in Dothan 37:12-17

2) Brothers’ Conspiracy: Joseph’s brothers conspired to kill him when they saw him coming but ended up selling him into slavery instead at the advice of Judah 37:18-28

3) Results: Jacob and his entire family suffered as a result of the deeds and the deception of the brothers 37:29-35

4) Epilogue: Joseph was sold to Potiphar in Egypt 37:36

2. Interlude--Rebuke of Judah--The Triumph of a Just Cause in a Corrupt Family:30 When Judah failed to ensure the levirate rights of his daughter-in-law, Tamar, she deceived him into having sexual intercourse with her by playing a prostitute and thereby championed her right to be the mother of Judah’s children, the younger of which displaced the older in an unusual birth 38:1-30

a. Faithless of Judah and His Sons: The faithlessness of Judah and his sons to God and his earthly program led to the near destruction of Judah’s family 38:1-11

b. Deception of Tamar: When Tamar realized that Judah had no intention of giving Shelah to her as a husband, she deceived him by acting like a prostitute and thereby conceived his child 38:12-23

c. The Righteousness of Tamar: When Judah discovered that Tamar was pregnant, he order her to be burned to death; but when she proved that he was the father, he admitted that she was in the right 38:24-26

d. Birth of Judah and Tamar: Tamar gave birth to twins, and although Zerah’s hand appeared first, Perez was actually born first 38:27-30

3. Faithfulness and Suffering:31 Under abundant blessing and unjust suffering Joseph showed himself to be a man of integrity who refused to sin against God and his master and who continued to be God’s servant by speaking forth God’s interpretation of dreams 39:1--40:23

a. Faithfulness--How the Wise man Resists Temptation: While enjoying the Lord’s abundant blessing upon him in Potiphar’s house, Joseph repeatedly refused the seductive attempts of his master’s wife, testifying that he could not sin against God and do wickedly against his master; and when he was imprisoned because of her false accusation, he once again enjoyed the Lord’s abundant blessing 39:1-23

1) Blessing in Potiphar’s House: After Joseph had been brought to Egypt and purchased by Potiphar, the Lord prospered everything he did and blessed Potiphar’s possessions when Joseph was put in charge of them 39:1-6

2) Resistance of Temptation and False Accusation: in the light of God’s blessing on him, Joseph repeatedly refused the seductive attempts of Potiphar’s wife, only to be falsely accused by her to the servants and to her husband 39:7-20

3) The Lord’s Blessing: The Lord was with Joseph in prison and dealt with him in loyal love, causing him to prosper, so that the warden put everything in his care 39:21-23

b. Suffering--Joseph in Prison--An Unwavering Faith:32 When Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker had disturbing dreams in prison, Joseph accurately foretold the cupbearer’s restoration and the baker’s execution, but his request to be remembered was quickly forgotten 40

1) Meeting: Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker were sent to Joseph’s prison for gravely offending their king 40:1-4

2) Dreams: when the cupbearer and the baker had disturbing dreams, Joseph interpreted their dreams, foretelling the cupbearer’s restoration to his post and the baker’s execution 40:5-19

3) Fulfillment and Forgetfulness: The dreams were fulfilled three days later, when Pharaoh granted amnesty to the cupbearer but executed the baker, just as Joseph had foretold; but the cupbearer forgot to mention Joseph to Pharaoh 40:20-23

4. Fulfillment of Destiny--How God Controls Nations to Accomplish His Program:33 After Joseph faithfully interpreted the two dreams of Pharaoh, God elevated Joseph to power and demonstrated his sovereignty in controlling the economic life of Egypt as he worked to accomplish his will for Israel through Joseph’s preparation for the years of famine 41:1-57

a. The Occasion: Pharaoh had two dreams that greatly troubled him and could hind no wise man to interpret them 41:1-8

b. The Explanation: After the cupbearer remembered Joseph’s abilities and told Pharaoh about them, Joseph interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh, explaining that interpretations came from God, and then advised Pharaoh regarding what he should do 41:9-36

1) Remembrance: The cupbearer remembered Joseph and related to Pharaoh what had happened in the prison 41:9-13

2) Sending for Joseph: Pharaoh sent for Joseph from the dungeon in order to have him interpret his dreams 41:14-24

3) Interpretation: Joseph interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh 41:25-32

4) Adviser: Joseph advised Pharaoh regarding how to plan for the famine 41:33-36

c. The Elevation of Joseph: Recognizing that God’s hand was on Joseph, Pharaoh appointed Joseph to the office of vizier over Egypt, providing him with a wife, who bore Ephraim and Manasseh, and gave him authority over the economy of the land 41:37-57

1) Administrator: Joseph became the administrator over Pharaoh’s house 41:37-45

2) Minister of Agriculture: Joseph served as minister of agriculture over Egypt 41:46-49

3) Bore Sons: Asenath bore Joseph two sons 41:50-52

4) Famine: Seven years of famine came upon Egypt 41:53-57

G. Cycle Two--Testing of the Brothers:34 Through a series of three tests Joseph examines his brothers to see if they are any more loyal to the family than they were with him, and upon the realization that they are in that Judah offers his life for the sake of his father Jacob, Joseph reveals himself to them explaining that it was God’s will that he be in Egypt and is warmly united with them 42:1--45:15

1. First Test (to set up the second)--The Awakening of Conscience:35 by putting his brothers into prison as spies when they came to Egypt for grain and by keeping Simeon hostage while the others returned to bring Benjamin back, Joseph awakened his brothers’ guilty consciences 42:35

a. Jacob’s Sending of His Sons to Egypt: When the family of Israel was out of grain, Jacob sent his sons down to Egypt to buy grain but did not send Benjamin 42:1-5

b. Joseph’s Test to Prove Truthfulness: Joseph tested his brothers when they came before him, accusing them of being spies, putting them in prison, and holding Simeon while the others returned to get Benjamin to prove that they were truthful men 42:6-26

1) Test: Joseph accused his brothers of being spies and put them in prison until one could go and get Benjamin, but then he let them go while one remained in prison until they brought Benjamin 42:6-20

2) Confession: The brothers confessed their guilt over the way they had treated Joseph, who, having understood their words, was overcome with emotion 42:21-26

c. Return to Canaan: As the brothers returned to Jacob in Canaan, they were dismayed to find money in their sacks; Jacob, upon hearing of the events, refused to permit Benjamin to return with them to Egypt 42:37-38

2. Second Test (to set up the third)--The Testing for Jealousy:36 After an impassioned dialogue with Jacob about taking Benjamin, the brothers brought Benjamin to Egypt; when they attempted to repay the money from their sacks, they received gracious and peaceful treatment from Joseph, which included lavish favoritism of Benjamin over the elder brothers 43:1-34

a. Setting: In an impassioned conversation with Jacob, the brothers, with Judah as their spokesman, gained permission to take Benjamin to Egypt in order to buy more grain 43:1-15

b. The Second Meeting of the Brothers: In a tense and emotional meeting the brothers offered their explanation of the money, only to find a peaceful and gracious response by the steward and Joseph 43:16-30

c. Joseph’s Second Test: In a prepared banquet for his brothers, Joseph seated the men in the order of their births and favored Benjamin over the others with extra servings 43:31-34

3. Third Test (consummation)--The Testing for Loyalty:37 Having forced the brothers to bring Benjamin down to Egypt, Joseph tested their concern for him by framing the lad and blaming him for taking the cup, all of which prompted the brothers’ acknowledgment that God was finding out their sin against Joseph, and Judah’s intercessory plea on Benjamin’s behalf 44:1-34

a. The Test and Initial Response: When Joseph tested his brothers’ concern for Benjamin, the brothers acknowledged that God had found out their iniquity in the evil done to Joseph 44:1-17

1) Test: Joseph tested them by placing his silver cup in Benjamin’s sack and accusing the brothers of stealing it 44:1-6

2) Defensive Response: Joseph’s test elicited a defensive and unified response from the brothers 44:7-13

3) Exposure of Hearts: Joseph’s test both prompted the brothers to acknowledge that God had found out their iniquity and examined the brothers’ concern for Benjamin by declaring him to be a slave 44:14-17

b. Judah’s Plea: Judah’s intercessory pleas on behalf of his brother Benjamin demonstrated his concern for his father and therefore the favorite son 44:18-34

1) Intercessor: Judah approached Joseph as the intercessor and recalled their first meeting with him 44:18-23

2) Father’s Concern: Judah recounted how they had told their father that they could not return to Egypt without Benjamin and reported Jacob’s anxiety over his favorite son 44:24-26

3) Substitution: Judah explained that Jacob would die in sorrow if Benjamin did not return and offered himself as a slave in Benjamin’s place 44:30-34

4. Aftermath:38 In a burst of unrestrainable emotion, Joseph revealed his identity to his brothers, assuring them that it was God’s sovereign purpose in sending him to Egypt and instructing them to bring his father to Egypt, and then was warmly united with his brothers 45:1-15

a. Joseph’s Emotional Revelation of Himself: When Joseph could no longer restrain himself, he revealed his identity to his brothers and assured them that it was God’s sovereign purpose to send him to Egypt in order to preserve the family 45:1-8

b. Joseph’s Instructions: Joseph instructed his brothers to inform his father of all his glory in Egypt and to bring Jacob to Egypt so that the whole family could dwell in security with ample provision 45:9-13

c. Reconciliation: Joseph reunited himself with his brothers 45:14-15

H. Transitional Chapters to Exodus: The time of the patriarchs of Israel closed with Jacob moving to Egypt with God’s approval to be united with his son, with Joseph wisely making provisions for Israel and Egypt, with Jacob affirming the certainty and future of God’s promises and with Joseph confirming the promises by burying his father in the land and comforting his brothers before he died 45:16--50:26

1. The Moving of Israel to Egypt: When the brothers brought news of Joseph’s survival and prosperity in Egypt, Israel went to be reunited with his son and to dwell in the land of Egypt, having been encouraged to go by the Lord, who assured him of the promises in a night vision 45:16--46:30

a. Israel Decides to See Joseph: After the brothers returned to Canaan to tell of Joseph’s survival and prosperity in Egypt, Israel decided to journey to Egypt to see his beloved son 45:16-28

b. God Confirms Israel: When Israel stopped on the way to worship at Beersheba, the Lord God spoke to him in a night vision, sanctioning his departure, confirming the promises, and assuring him of the Lord’s continued presence and blessing on the family 46:1-7

c. Settlement in Egypt: All of the descendant of Israel’s household, some seventy in all, settled in the land of Egypt 46:8-27

d. Reunification: Israel came to Egypt, where he was reunited with his exalted son, Joseph 46:28-30

2. By Wisdom Kings Reign: Joseph acted wisely in presenting his family to Pharaoh so that they received the best of the land of Pharaoh, whom Jacob blessed in return; and then by wisdom Joseph bought almost all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh while saving the lives of the Egyptians and preserving Israel’s prosperity in Goshen 46:31--47:27

a. Provision for Jacob’s Family: Through Joseph’s wise planning, Pharaoh provided land and food for Jacob’s family in Egypt in the midst of a famine 46:31--47:1

b. Provision for Egypt and Pharaoh: Joseph ruled wisely when he saved the lives of the Egyptians by providing food for them in exchange for their money, livestock, land, and lives, thus acquiring almost all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh 47:13-27

3. Faith That Has Learned the Ways of God: Jacob believed that God’s promises to him were certain, even after death, and so he worshiped God, proving his faith by demanding to be buried in the Land of Promise; Jacob also believed that God sovereignly gave his blessing contrary to human expectations, proving his faith by blessing the younger Ephraim over the older Manaaseh 47:28--48:22

a. Place of Burial: Near the end of his life, Jacob by faith made Joseph swear to bury him in the cave of Machpelah and not in Egypt 47:28-31

b. Giving of the Birthright: On his deathbed, Jacob gave the birthright to Joseph by raising Manaaseh and Ephraim to the status of firstborn sons 48:1-7

c. Exaltation of the Younger: In confirming the birthright through the blessing, Jacob by faith exalted the younger Ephraim over the older Manaaseh 48:8-20

d. Double Portion: Believing that God would bring them back to the land, Jacob stated that he had just given the double portion of the birthright to Joseph 48:21-22

4. The Shaping of Destiny: In blessing his sons, Jacob foretold what would befall each of them and their descendants in the latter days, he disqualified Reuben for the birthright because of sin and Simeon and Levi because of violence, but gave kingship to Judah and extensive blessing to Joseph, while briefly declaring the other sons’ fortune in life 49:1-28

a. Prologue: Jacob called his sons together so that he could tell them what would befall them in the latter days 49:1-2

b. Reuben: Reuben lost the birthright because he acted presumptuously in the struggle for succession 49:3-4

c. Simeon and Levi: Simeon and Levi would be dispersed because of their fierce and unjustified anger 49:5-7

d. Judah: Judah would receive the kingship and anticipate a time of abundance because he would act in a valiant and praiseworthy manner 49:8-12

e. Zebulun: Zebulun would dwell by the sea and be a haven for ships 49:13

f. Issachar: Issachar would prefer ease and luxury to the hard work and freedom for which he was equipped 49:14-15

g. Dan: Dan, although small, would help his brothers against oppression 49:16-18

h. Gad: Gad would be raided by marauding bands but would fight back 49:19

i. Asher: Asher’s land would be so fertile that he could delivers delicacies to royalty 49:20

j. Naphtali: Naphtali would be a swift messenger with a message of victory 49:21

k. Joseph: Joseph would prosper abundantly and, when fiercely attacked by his enemies, would be successful because of the help of the God of his father--a blessing that gave Joseph a position above the others 49:22-26

l. Benjamin: Benjamin will be successful and share his substance 49:27

m. Epilogue: This is Jacob’s blessing on the twelve tribes 49:28

5. Deaths and Unfulfilled Promises: In compliance with the instruction of Jacob, Joseph gained permission from Pharaoh to bury his father in the Land of Promise; and in response to his brothers’ fears, Joseph assured them of his favor in spite of their past actions, promising before he died, that God’s promises would be fulfilled 49:29--50:26

a. Burial of Jacob: Joseph, in compliance with his father’s instructions, gained permission from Pharaoh to bury the patriarch in the land of Canaan 49:29--50:14

b. Assurance to Brothers: Joseph, in response to his brother’s fears of retaliation for their past sins, assured them of his kindness to them and of God’s purposes 50:15-21

c. Death of Joseph: Joseph, after a full and prosperous life, died in faith that the promises would be fulfilled 50:22-26

1 This argument is developed with slight adaptation from Allen P. Ross' work Creation and Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988), from personal study, and from notes taken in Allen P. Ross' course 117 Exegesis in the Pentateuch: Genesis (DTS, Fall, 1982).

2 Although the sweep of creation is once again recalled, this passages is more concerned with the successive development of creation. It begins with a closer description of the creation of Adam and Eve (2) and then traces sin and the curse to the expansion of sin in the descendants--the fall (3), the murder of Abel (4:1-15), the development of sin within civilization (4:16-24). There is a ray of hope in the midst of this great decline (4:25, 26).

3 This is a mirror of chapter one--title (4), chaos (5-6), creation (7).

4 It was necessary for man to be in relationship to fully express the image of God.

5 This is the only part of creation which is identified as being not good. Man must be in relationship as God exists in relationship. Here God exposes man to his need.

6 This is once again a downward movement in the genealogy from Adam to Noah. It begins again with the reiteration of the bliss of creation (5:1-2) and ends with God's displeasure over man's existence (6:5-7). The effects of sin on mankind are constantly reiterated with the phrase and he died. Genesis 6:1-8 is the climax. In the midst of man's despair God provides hope through Enoch 5:21--24.

7 This unit links the history of the early people from Adam to Noah through Seth confirming God's promise (3:15). It shows that the result of the curse is that man dies even through civilization prospers (4:20-22). It also demonstrates that God values individual's lives since they are named.

8 This is still a part of the Toledot begun in 5:1 emphasizing the advance of sin in all aspects of creation: (1) from two men--Cain and Abel, (2) to more men--Deswcendants of Cain [esp. Lamech], (3) to man men--the sons of God and the women of men. This section shows how wicked the race had become and precedes a severe judgment (the Flood) because here, sin is severe.

9 This was probably an attempt to achieve immortality through immorality.

10 The terms Nephilim and mighty men (6:4) refer to violent rulers--great princes (cf. Gen 10:8-10; Numbers 13:33. Giants comes form the LXX and the Vulgate.

11 This is the third of the toledot sections. Once gain this is a section of judgment and blessing--a microcosm of the book as a whole. It opens with Noah finding grace (6:9ff). It closes with Noah lying drunk in his tent and Canaan being cursed (9:20-28). Even though there is judgment upon the world through the flood, blessing comes through Noah when through God's grace it is as though the race begins anew. At this point there are many comparisons to Genesis 1--2. Blessing now becomes more prominent in its antithetical position to cursing throughout the rest of the book.

12 Ross notes the following chiastic structure of the flood narrative (Creation and Blessing, 191).

Title: These are the generation of Noah.

Introduction: Noah's righteousness and Noah's sons 6:9-10

A God resolves to destroy the corrupt race 6:11-13

B Noah builds an ark according to God's instructions 6:14-22

C The Lord commands the remnant to enter the ark 7:1-9

D The flood beings 7:10-16

E The flook prevails 7:10-16

F God remembers Noah 8:1

E' The flood receeds

D' The earth dries 8:6-14

C' God commands the remnant to leave the ark 8:5-19

B' Noah builds an altar 8:20

A' The Lord resolves not to destroy humankind 8:21-22.

13 One major purpose of this final section of the Toledot begun in 6:9 is to show that man has not changed at all in his basic essence. Noah, with an opportunity to start a new creation, lies drunk in his tent and his son's descendants are cursed. Another purpose is to show the nation Israel, which is being led by Moses into Canaan (the land of the Canaanites) that the Canaanites were cursed by God long ago in antiquity and therefore they should have confidence as the line of blessing through Shem.

14 Even though Noah found grace and walked with God and brought rest from the curse, the curse overtakes him--a sinner (cf. 6:9; 9:20, 29). It is as though hope was extended temporarily from the genealogy of chapter five, but now this strand dies. Hope is extended through the prophetic work--the oracle on Shem. So too hope is one day realized through the living word--Jesus Christ (John 1:1).

15 There are two major units in this toledot: (1) the table of nations [10:1-32] and (2)the dispersion of the nations [11:1-9]. These units are not in chronological order but thematic order (cf. Gen 1--2). This toledot moves from Noah's world-wide oracle to the nations as a whole. The emphasis is upon man's bent toward evil, but it sets the scene for blessing in the next toledot. The question which arises from this section is, What is the answer to man's constant decay?

16 This table of nations has the following purposes: (1) it clarifies those people who have a part in the blessings and cursings of Noah, (2) it lays the foundation for the blessing of Abraham, a descendant of Shem, (3) it shows that people are spread out across the face of the earth as God desired (cf. 9:1). However, this dispersion did not occur in obedience as 11:1-9 will demonstrate. Only God will be able to unite this factious, warring people. And (4) it provides a world view for the nation Israel that God will move nations to make room for His seed--Israel, Messiah, Christ, ultimately.

17 This is still part of the toledot begun in 10:1. Since the nations are already spread in 10:1-32, this section is ordered thematically and not chronologically. The movement is general to specific--effect to cause. This happens elsewhere in Genesis (e.g., 1--2; 37--39). Chapter 10 describes the different families of the earth and now chapter 11 describes how the families became different and spread across the earth. Thematically, man is pictured as once again being rebellious and thus under the hand of God for discipline. The exact chronology is only hinted at in 10:25 were during the time of Peleg (division) the earth was divided (e.g., four generations after Noah. The structure of the passage emphasizes the complete undoing of man's evil intents with YHWH coming down rather than man coming up (J.P. Fokkelman, Narrative Art in Genesis, 22):

A There is unity 1

B They settle in Shinar 2

C They plan materials 3a

D They prepare materials 3b

E They plan to build a great city and tower 4a

F They desire to have fame and be unified


F' The people are unified for evil 6

E' The people built a city and tower 5b

D' God plans to go down 7a

C' God plans to destroy their tool of unity 7b

B' God scattered them 8

A' There is disunity 9

18 The purposes of this genealogy are as follows: (1) it shows the importance of the call of Abram in God's international and spiritual plans, (2) it connects the continuance of God's plan begun at creation. The selection of Abram is not arbitrary but a divine choice from antiquity, (3) it demonstrates that Noah's oracle is true and will be true since blessing comes through Shem, (4) it shows how God moves the nations--through a man of His choosing--not necessarily a nation which is already great, (5) to bring about hope from the desperate state of man in 11:9, and (6) it fits the artistic structure of the book of general to specific (e.g., families of the earth through Noah's sons to how they become scattered to tracing the line of blessing--God breaking into our world.

19 Another way to arrange this unit is around the promise to Abraham (Ross, Creation and Blessing, 81-82).

I. Call of Abram 12:1-9

II. Development of the Promise--Focus on the Land 12:10--15:21

A. Threat 12:10-20

B. Separation 13

C. Rescue of Lot 14

D. Enactment of the Covenant 15

III. Development of the Promise--Focus on the Seed 16-21

A. Threat 16

B. Separation 17

C. Rescue of Lot 18--19

D. Repeated Threat 20

E. Fulfillment of the Covenant 21

IV. Test of Abraham 22:1-19

V. Epilogue--The transfer of the promise 22:20--25:11

A. Transition 22:20-24

B. Land 23

C. Seed 24

D. Dominion 25:1-11

20 This potentially devastating report comes right after Abraham's great victory. At home in Padan Aram there has been great blessing. Here Abraham has only one son and he almost killed him. Will he return or stay in the land?

21 Even in this difficult word is God's provision for the future of Abraham and the promises, but Abraham does not know this at this time.

22 Genesis 17:3-5.

23 Before the line of blessing may be dealt with, Moses will unfold what became of Abraham's other seed, Ishmael. What happened to Ishmael since he was not in the promise? God still kept his promise to him (cf. 13; 17:20).

24 This next unit continues after the line is set for the recipient of the blessing by switching to the blesser (Isaac) in order to emphasize that he has all to offer (in the upcoming blessing of chapter 27) that Abraham did since he follows in Abraham's steps and God rescues him as He did Abraham.

25 The narrator wraps up the history of Jacob and now Esau before going on to the next stage of blessing.

26 These names cannot be harmonized with his previous wives (27). He seems to have had several wives, some more important than others (like Jacob).

27 The point is comparative 36:31.

28 After God elects Joseph to administer His program in exile, two rounds of testing reveal that Joseph is faithful.

29 Through dreams God elects the faithful Joseph to be the ruler, but he is envied, hated, and sold into slavery by his brothers. There is the evil destruction of life through jealousy (cf. Cain), and deception of the father with the blood of the kid (cf. chapter 27). Joseph is also the faithful servant of the father prefiguring his faithful service in Egypt.

30 Through a series of unusual circumstances, evil is judged and righteousness triumphs, showing in Judah that the program of election cannot be set aside.

31 Through another period of testing Joseph shows himself to be faithful.

32 This chapter probably has a chiastic structure (Ross, Creation and Blessing, 631):

A Meeting 1-4

B Inquiry 5-8

C Dream Explanation 9-11, 12-13

D Request

C' Dream explanation 16-18, 18-19

B' Fulfillment 20-22

A Forgetting 23

33 Having remained faithful in spite of envy, hatred, temptation, and enslavement, Joseph rises to power (cf. the end of chapter 38).

34 Wheras Joseph's tests were designed to demonstrate his faithfulness, the testing of the brothers was necessitated by past unfaithfulness. The point was that participation in God's program of blessing cannot permit evil (i.e., acts and attitudes that destroy life).

35 Joseph accuses them of spying (what they had done to him) and demands Benjamin as proof of their truthfulness. Joseph then puts money in their sacks and imprisons one of them (as they had done to him) to raise their consciousness about evil.

Ross notes a chiasmus in Genesis 42:7-24 (Creation and Blessing, 649).

A Joseph knew his brothers and remembered 7-9a

B Joseph accused them of being spies, but they explained 9b-13

C Joseph set out a test to prove they were honest 14-16

D Joseph put them in prison 17

C' Joseph set out a test to prove they were honest 18-20

B' Brothers confessed, and Reuben accused them of their fault 21-22

A' Joseph understood and wept 23-24

36 The question being answered is will they preserve life? Joseph gives them all good things but shows favoritism to Benjamin, causing envy in the brothers.

37 Now Joseph puts the cup in Benjamin's sack to give them the opportunity to abandon their brother, as they had abandoned him. Good triumphs over evil now, as Judah magnanimously stands for Benjamin (he had learned much in chapter 38).

38 Joseph reveals himself to his brother and explains the work of God in delivering his people.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines

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George Muller was a man of great faith and the founder of Great Britain’s orphanage ministry. Let me tell you a little bit about him.

An 1825 graduate of the University of Halle, Muller was more interested in women, drinking, and worldly pleasures as a university student than he was in his studies. His interest in Christianity was almost nonexistent. But God was working in Muller’s life and be began to ponder the faith promises of Jesus in the Gospels. “Did Jesus really mean what he said about ‘asking’?” Muller wondered.

Sitting in his room one day looking out over the town to the sea beyond, Muller thought about people he knew who were afraid of life or afraid to launch out on some daring, life-changing vocation.

As he thought about the faith-promises of Jesus and people whose lives were empty and drab, he saw walking on the cobblestone sidewalk below two little orphan girls who had no one to care for them. Their father had gone down with his ship in the Magellan Straits and only two weeks before their mother had died of tuberculosis. Knowing the girls, Muller was aware that the eleven and thirteen year old girls had three younger brothers and sisters at home for whom they were trying to care. “What will happen to them?” Muller questioned.

Muller turned to an open Bible laying on the table beside him. Suddenly from the Scriptures, God spoke to Muller: “Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it” (Psalm 81:10). Bowing his head, Muller said he was opening his mouth to ask for divine guidance and he made the promise to do what the Lord wanted him to do.

In 1830 he married Mary Groves and they determined to part with all their worldly goods and depend on God alone for support. They gave away their possessions not telling a soul why they were doing it.

Muller opened his first orphan’s home on April 21, 1836, in a rented building. Within days, they had forty-three children for whom to care. Among the commitments Muller and his fellow workers made to God were these: They would never solicit funds, never incur debts, and their financial accounts would be audited annually.

Continuing to pray for God’s blessing and depending on him to supply those blessings, Muller’s work grew in leaps and bounds. Starting out with forty-three children in a rented building, they eventually had five new buildings, 110 coworkers and 2,050 orphans.

Before Muller opened his first rented building to orphans he told his Heavenly Father that the experiment would be counted a failure if a child went a day without food in the orphanage.

God blessed remarkably. The children were not taken care of minimally, but had maximum provisions: three pairs of shoes each; three suits for each boy; and five dresses for each girl. In addition, the tables were always covered with white tablecloths for the evening meals and flowers were on the tables when in season.

For more than sixty years, as George Muller recorded in his “journals,” God miraculously blessed George and May’s faith. It was such a testimony to God’s willingness to provide for his people that when Muller was seventy he began to travel, sharing God’s blessings on the ministry with believers in forty-two countries.

George Muller’s life is an undeniable testimony to the blessing of faith and faith that leads to blessing.1 He is literally a modern day model of saints from bygone eras as well as those found in Scripture. He was a man—rare for his time—who actively trusted God each day. In fact, many refer to him as “the man of faith.”

But where did George Muller’s faith come from? How can we develop such great faith? Perhaps Muller possessed the particular gift of faith (1 Cor 12:9), but nonetheless, all of us need to grow in faith. Certainly his faith arose out of need, but what gave it its daring shape? Undoubtedly his faith began and was nurtured through much prayer and through many experiences, but the ultimate shape of his faith undoubtedly arose out of his meditation on Scripture.

It is in Scripture that we too find our foundations and models for faith. It is in Scripture that we see what faith ought to look like and what unbelief looks like. This is true because it is in Scripture that we get the clearest understanding of the object of our faith, namely, God himself. Thus it is to Scripture that we now turn. Paul said in reference to the OT that “whatever was written in former times was written for our instruction so that through the endurance and encouragement of Scripture we might have hope” (Rom 15:4). So we turn to the Scriptures to look briefly at a segment in the life of Abraham—a man of unusual faith. Let us fill our minds and hearts with his story that it might become our story too. Let us allow his faith to critique our unbelief, motivate us to committed faith, and to shape our world.

Particularly we are going to look at Genesis 11:27-12:9. The text reads as follows:

11:27 This is the account of Terah.

Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. 11:28 While Terah his father was alive, Haran died in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 11:29 And Abram and Nahor took for themselves wives. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai. And the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milcah and Iscah. 11:30 Sarai was barren; she had no children. 11:31 Terah took Abram his son, and Lot his grandson, the son of Haran, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, the wife of Abram his son, and with them he went out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. When they came to Haran, they settled there. 11:32 And the lifetime of Terah was 205 years; and he died in Haran.

12:1 c 12:2 and I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, in order that you might be a blessing; 12:3 and I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, and all the families of the earth will be blessed through you.”

12:4 So Abram left, just as the LORD had spoken to him; and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. 12:5 And Abram took Sarai, his wife, and Lot, his nephew, and all the possessions that they had acquired, and the people they had gathered in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. And they entered the land of Canaan.

12:6 Abram crossed over into the land as far as the place of the oak tree of Moreh at Shechem. Now the Canaanite at that time was in the land. 12:7 But the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your seed I will give this land.” And so Abram built there an altar to the LORD who appeared to him.

12:8 Then he moved from there to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD, and made proclamation in the name of the LORD. 12:9 And so Abram continually journeyed by stages down to the Negev.—NET Bible

Faith Gives Rise to Radical Obedience

Let’s begin by looking at 12:1 and let’s try to understand it first in its own context in the book of Genesis. These amazing promises given to Abram and his seed in Genesis 12:1-3ff do not come out of a vacuum in the text nor should we be totally surprised when we read them. Why is this so? Because we have been marginally prepared for this new development. Indeed we have been tipped off, as it were, in many ways, two of which will now be pointed out. They are both found in 11:27, which is really where this section, namely 11:27-12:9, begins—not in 12:1.2

We have already been somewhat prepared for the great movement in chapter 12:1-9 by what has come earlier in 11:27-32. Two facts in particular are worth mentioning: (1) the mention of the formula: “this is the account” in 11:27. Where have we seen this “formula” before and what does it signify? Well, we see the same thing several times throughout Genesis, the last major occurrence being in 6:8 in reference to Noah, where God began a new thing in Noah and his sons. This is one hint that what is coming in 11:27 and following—concerning the life of Abram—will be something new on a grand scale. But there is also a second reason; (2) the mention of Terah having three named sons (cf. 11:27) alerts us to a previous pattern. Adam and Noah both had three named sons and both of them obviously point out high water marks in God’s dealings with people. So here in 11:27 and 12:1 we are not totally surprised when God calls Abram and embarks on a new path in the fulfillment of his promises and plan of redemption.

Now we need to see from the text how Abram’s faith gave rise to his obedience. Genesis 12:1 says Now the LORD had said to Abram, “Go out from your country, and from your relatives, and from your father’s household, to the land that I will show you….” Though faith is not explicitly mentioned in this verse, it is implied, and it is the reason for Abram’s obedience. The term “go” is literally “go by yourself” and can emphasize loneliness, isolation; ideas of parting and seclusion are often implied. The subject is finding himself and establishing his own identity. He needs to find his own place by disassociating himself from the familiar and the group (Gen 21:16; 22:2; Exod 18:27; Song 2:10, 13; 4:6).3 It is used in Genesis 22:2 when God told Abram to sacrifice his son, that is, to get up in the morning and go by himself and take his son to a place that He would show him.

The Genesis 12:1 text emphasizes the solitude of Abraham that although he took his wife and nephew and the people they had acquired in Haran, Abraham was really leaving his country, relatives and immediate family behind. The inward movement of the concentric circles, country—relatives—father’s household—highlights the radical nature and cost of obedience. Abram’s faith in YHWH gave rise to a radical obedience.

Abram had originally come from Ur of the Chaldees which was located in southern Iraq and was a thriving Sumerian city before and during the times of Abram. Education was well developed and students learned to read, write, and do some arithmetic. Commerce was at a high point due in part to the shipping industry. Ships carrying gold, copper ore, ivory and various wooden products came into Ur through the Persian Gulf. The people of Mesopotamia, and therefore Ur, were very religious. Indeed, the people of Ur worshipped the moon god, Nanna, in a ziggurt (i.e., a large temple structure) they had constructed. Idols were also found in the walls of most houses.

Thus Abraham’s background was as an idolater, but here he was following the command of YHWH to leave Haran and go to a land he had never seen before. He responded to the call of God—who is always the initiator—by faith and left, though there was no visible certainty of his future. In fact everything in his circumstances seem to mitigate against going to Canaan.

Ben Patterson in Writing, recounts a story about mountain climbing:

In 1988, three friends and I climbed Mount Lyell, the highest peak in Yosemite National Park. Our base camp was less than 2,000 feet from the peak, but the climb to the top and back was to take the better part of a day, due in large part to the difficulty of the glacier we had to cross to get to the top. The morning of the climb we started out chattering and cracking jokes.

As the hours passed, the two more experienced mountaineers opened up a wide gap between me and my kess-experienced companion. Being competitive by nature, I began to look for shortcuts to beat them to the top. I thought I saw one to the right of the outcropping of rock—so I went, deaf to the protests of my companion.

Perhaps it was the effect of the high altitude, but the significance of the two experienced climbers not taking this path did not register in my consciousness. It should have, for thirty minutes later I was trapped in a cul-de-sac of rock atop the Lyell Glacier., looking down several hundred feet of a sheer slope of ice, pitched at about a forty-five degree angle…I was only about ten feet from the safety of a rock, but one little slip and I wouldn’t stop sliding until I landed in the valley floor some fifty miles away! It was nearly noon, and the warm sun had the glacier glistening with slippery ice. I was stuck and I was scared.

It took an hour for my experienced climbing friends to find me. Standing on the rock I wanted to reach, one of them leaned out and used an ice ac to chip two little footsteps in the glacier. Then he gave me the following instructions: “Ben, you must step out from where you are and put your foot where the first foothold is. When your foot touches it, without a moment’s hesitation swing your other foot across and land it on the next step. When you do that, reach out and I will take your hand and pull you to safety.

That sounded real good to me. It was the next thing he said that made me more frightened than ever. “But listen carefully: As you step across, do not lean into the mountain! If anything, lean out a bit. Otherwise, your feet may fly out from under you, and will start sliding down.”

I don’t like precipices. When I am on the edge of a cliff, my instinct is to lie down and hug the mountain, to become one with it, not to lean away from it! But that was what my good friend was telling me to do. For a moment, based solely on what I believed to be the good will and good sense of my friend, I decided to say no to what I felt and, to stifle my impulse to cling to the security of the mountain, to lean out, step out, and traverse the ice to safety. It took less than two seconds to find out if faith was well founded!

Don’t you think that’s what Abraham felt like? Isn’t that what we feel like when God tells us to do something that seems to go against all that feels natural? I’m sure there was a good part of Abraham that would have just liked to stay in Haran or perhaps move back to the home he knew in Ur, where he married his wife and where all the family could be together. But like Ben Patterson, he listened to another voice, to the voice of the Lord, and he leaned out…he went against all that to him felt natural…and he trusted God. Are you willing to do the same? When everything screams in you against it, do you still seek to share your faith with that person sitting next to you? Are you willing to leave your job for the uncertainties of a higher calling? Faith gives rise to radical obedience. Abraham made the choice to trust God and God blessed him exceedingly. Look at vv. 2-3.

Faithful Obedience Leads to Blessing

Abram trusted in YHWH and YHWH responded. Abram came with a mountain of faith, but YHWH responded with a universe of blessing! The text of vv. 2-3 focuses on promises and blessings. Promises and blessings were given to Abram because he put God first and by faith obeyed (Matt 6:33). He left Haran and started out for Canaan. Let’s look at these promises in vv. 2-3 more closely. There are two aspects to these promises that must be seen: blessings and curses.

First the blessings: The blessing promised Abram is both personal and national, as well as international in scope and focus. Verse 3 says that “all peoples of the earth will be blessed through you.” Isn’t it just like our God to determine to bless us? Isn’t it interesting that when he chooses Abram, an idolater, he moves toward him in order to bless him, and not only him, but the entire planet? Five times in vv. 2-3 the term “blessing” is used. God wants to bless his people. In fact, if you remember, this goes right back to creation where God blessed Adam and Eve (1:28) and then later that original blessing was repeated in 5:2. God also blessed Noah and restated the mandate in creation, namely, that man rule (9:1-2). God’s plan is to bless the world.

Indeed, the idea of blessing is used more in Genesis than in any other book: 88 times, compared to a total of 310 in the rest of the Old Testament. The term “blessing,” barak in Hebrew, includes God’s gracious provisions of personal well-being, long life, wealth, peace, abundance of food and crops, children, and personal knowledge of himself and his ways.

Yes, God’s plan is to bless the world. But, not everyone in the world wants his blessing, nor the way he has chosen to carry it out. There will be people who will curse or level insults and accusations against Abram and in so doing bring a judicial curse from God on their heads. They will be cut off from the hope of blessing.

The promise here in Genesis 12:1-3 shapes the lives of patriarchs as narrated throughout Genesis and can be seen to shape the entire Old Testament. The great name promised Abram is developed in God’s promise to David (as Abram’s seed) in 2 Samuel 7:8-16 and the particular means by which universal blessing was to come to the world is developed in the new covenant in Jeremiah 31. But the most significant fact about Abram—and indeed the most significant fact period—was that Abram knew God. He had come to personally know the Lord. He was learning to trust in him as his all in all. Just “Him.”

In The Cure for a Troubled Heart, author and pastor Ron Mehl writes:

I heard once about a dear, saintly old woman who was gradually losing her memory. Details began to blur…. Throughout her life, however, this woman had cherished and depended on the Word of God, committing to memory many verses from her worn King James Bible.

Her favorite verse had always been 2 Timothy 1:12: “For I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.”

She was finally confined to bed in a nursing home, and her family knew that she would never leave alive. As they visited with her, she would still quote verses of Scripture on occasion—especially 2 Timothy 1:12. But with the passing of time, even parts of this well loved verse began to slip away.

“I know whom I have believed,” she would say. “He is able to keep…what I have committed…to him.”

Her voice grew weaker. And her voice became even shorter. “What I have committed…to him.”

As she was dying, her voice became so faint family members had to bend over to the few whispered words on her lips. And at the end, there was only one word of her life verse left.


She whispered it again and again as she stood on the threshold of heaven. “Him…Him…Him.”

It was all that was left. It was all that was needed.

My friends, there is the blessing of Abraham. To know God personally. Personal knowledge of my Savior, the One who loves me with an unquenchable love, this is the ultimate goal of the promise of blessing through Abram. The One who has spoken into my darkness and made himself known to me, He is what life is all about. “He” was enough for Abram and “He” is enough for me. To know him is to enjoy eternal life, both now and in eternity (John 17:3).

Paul makes this point abundantly clear in Galatians. He argues that if you are a Christian, you participate in the blessing given to Abram; Abraham’s story has become your story, his God, your God, his blessings, your blessings, and indeed more in Christ Jesus. In Galatians 3:29 Paul says: “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abram’s seed and heirs according to the promise.” As we live in Christ and obey him we enjoy tremendous blessings including personal knowledge of God, help in trials, answered prayer, and, according to the mercy of God, many physical blessings as well.

We might even add another point in keeping with the universal blessing outlined in the Abrahamic promise of Genesis 12:2-3. We now, as heirs of that promise, and followers of Christ, become to the world what Abram was—a proclaimer of the one true God and repentance and belief in him. Our commission to make disciples of all nations has its origin in the Abrahamic promise which itself is inextricably rooted in the creation mandate to bless the world (cf. Matthew 1:1; 28:19, 20). Those who reject God’s blessing in Christ, the greatest son of Abram, will experience the curse of ultimate separation from the Lord (2 Thess 1:8-9). Let us then move out into the world with the light of love and the gospel of Christ. We have been blessed. Let us seek to bless (Matt 5:16; 2 Cor 1:3-4).

So faith in God brought Abram into the realm of God’s blessing. But a faith that has never been tested is not as genuine and mature a faith as it otherwise could be. It’s still an infant faith.

Faith Is Tested by the Obstacles God Places before It

Abram demonstrated phenomenal faith in light of God’s call and was thoroughly blessed for it. So it is with us as well when we trust in Christ. But that does not mean that everything in our lives will run smoothly, so to speak. Quite the opposite actually. Let’s look at vv. 4-6.

There are many things to discuss in these verses, but I would like to point out a few that demonstrate that Abram’s faith was real and that it was developed in the laboratory of life. God was in the process of deepening the good work he had begun (Phil 1:6).

First, note that the text says in v. 4 that Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. Two important facts emerge from this: (1) Though he lived to 175 years old, Abram was no spring chicken when he decided to follow the Lord to Canaan. Age is no hindrance to faith and taking bold steps for the Lord. In fact, it was through the problem of age that God showed himself to Abram and Sarai as the God of the impossible; (2) Abram’s father was not yet dead, in fact he was only 145 years old, sixty years before his death. Therefore, Abram really did pay the cost to follow the Lord. He left his own family to pursue the call of God on his life. Jim Elliot once said: “he is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose!”

But that’s not all. Look at v. 5. The text says that Abram took his wife Sarai with him. Now the struggle comes to the forefront. In 11:30 the text goes out of its way to point out that Sarai was barren, that she didn’t even have a single child. Then, in 12:2, God says he’s going to make a great nation out of Abram. Well, its obvious that it won’t be through Sarai. She’s barren. So it must be through someone else. But here in 12:5 we find out that there isn’t a “someone else.” We find out that Abram took his wife Sarai. In spite of the obvious tensions, Abram must have believed God’s promise. Though Sarai struggled deeply with her bareness later and Abraham sought to fulfill the promise through Hagar, God did fulfill his promise for Sarai to have a son. But their faith was developed through suffering through this.

Sometimes we forget what childlessness meant in the ancient Near East. It involved shame, social ridicule, and implied that the woman/couple were not in the favor of the gods. Why then should they trust YHWH when he makes “high-flutin’” promises about a nation; they don’t even have a single child. Sometimes some of our greatest struggles believing God and his good promises center in one way or another around our kids.

Author Marshall Shelley, who suffered the deaths of two of his children, writes in Leadership journal:

Even as a child, I loved to read, and I quickly learned that I would most likely be confused during the opening chapters of a novel. New characters were introduced. Disparate, seemingly random events took place. Subplots were complicated and didn’t seem to make sense in relation to the main plot.

But I learned to keep reading. Why? Because you know that the author, if he or she is good, will weave them all together by the end of the book. Eventually, each element will be meaningful. At times such faith has to be a conscious choice.

Even when I can’t explain why a chromosomal abnormality develops in my son, which prevents him from living on earth more than two minutes…Even when I can’t fathom why our daughter has to endure two years of severe and profound retardation and continual seizures ….

I choose to trust that before the book closes, the Author will make things clear.4

So it was with Abram and Sarai. Certainly they made mistakes along the way, but overall they trusted the God who loves to do the impossible. What are you trusting God for that only he can do? In order for faith to grow it must see beyond the obstacles and pain to the God of our circumstances.

And there’s yet another thing, even more serious to the life and faith of Abram and his wife, that is, more serious in an insidious way. Look at v. 6. The text says that Abram traveled through the land as far as the great tree of Moreh and that the Canaanites were living in the land at that time. These are two very significant facts in light of God’s promise to the patriarch that he would possess the land. Somehow the Canaanites would have to be driven out, but that is not the primary concern of the text right now. The primary concern of the text right now is to show that Abram’s growing faith in Yahweh was going to be tested. But both the inevitable loss experienced after leaving his home in Haran, and the bitter sorrow at the thought of being ultimately barren and having no son (cf. Gen 15:1-2) were trials from within the house of blessing. The Canaanites, however, pose a serious struggle from without, upon the house of blessing. They threatened an even quicker extinction to the line of Abram and faith in YHWH. Don’t you just love it when the Lord corners you, and you have to trust?

The Hebrew term Moreh means “teacher” and may indicate an ancient shrine or a place where oracles were declared by Canaanite priests. Hosea 4:13 talks about the use of a terebinth tree for idol worship. Thus, living among idolatrous people—people steeped in genuine unbelief—was going to test Abram’s faith. He himself was steeped in idolatry and the tendency to lapse into pagan religion would remain a very real and present danger to him and his family. And, as we know from the book of Joshua and several other places in the OT, the Canaanites would prove a formidable enemy for the Hebrews to drive out of the land.

The question is, “Will Abram hold up, or fold up?” What would you do? Are you responsibly in the world as God’s minister, or is the world in you?” Faith is not just believing God for great things and responding to his promises, it also involves a commitment to live as he desires in light of the circumstances he permits in our lives. Faith builds character.

Rosa Parks, mother of the civil rights movement, was arrested in 1955 for refusing to give up her bus seat to a white man. Boycotts and protests followed, and eventually the Supreme Court ruled racial segregation unconstitutional. In Quiet Strength she writes:

I have learned over the years that knowing what must be done does away with fear. When I sat down on the bus that day, I had no idea history was being made—I was only thinking of getting home. But I had made up my mind. After so many years of being a victim of the mistreatment my people suffered, not giving up my seat—and whatever I had to face afterwards—was not important. I did not feel any fear sitting there. I felt the Lord would give me the strength to endure whatever I had to face. It was time for someone to stand up—or in my case, sit down. So I refused to move.5

What tremendous faith and conviction of character. Rosa Parks knew what was right and by faith she never backed down from carrying it out. So also Abram. He knew that God had called him to go to this new land, even though he didn’t know where he was going. His faith gave him the courage and determination to live for God in a pagan land. By faith he overcame the struggles and trials of leaving family, the bareness of his wife, and the hostilities of living in a foreign land. By faith he gained an exemplary character and did not succumb to the unbelievers around him.. His life matched his words, so to speak (cf. Heb 11:8-12). Does ours?

Faith Needs God’s Reassurance

The key to growing a strong faith in the midst of trials is hearing and listening to the voice of the Lord, experiencing the presence of the One who made the promises. So God, knowing we are but dust, and among those who consistently need encouragement, appears to Abram—the one who is a stranger in a foreign land, with a foreign language, customs, faith, and way of life—and reaffirms to him the promise of offspring and ownership of the land. While God speaks to us primarily through the Scripture as the indwelling Spirit marries the very words thereof to our hearts, God appeared to Abram and spoke to him. In the midst of trials, nothing is more assuring and nothing is more clear, than the voice, yes the very presence, of our heavenly father.

In the first part of this century, Sir Ernest Shackleford began his voyage to the Antarctic. It was his dream to cross the twenty-one hundred miles of wasteland by dogsled. He didn’t make it that far, however. On the way his ship was stopped by an ice pack and sank. He and his men had to trudge over drifting ice floes trying to reach the nearest land, nearly two-hundred miles away, and the nearest human outpost nearly twelve-hundred miles away. They towed behind them a lifeboat weighing nearly one ton. When they finally reached waters clear enough of ice to navigate, they faced waves as high as ninety feet. Finally they reached south Georgia island, only to find that it had never been crossed before. When they finally reached their destination almost seven months after they had began the journey, they were so bedraggled their friends did not recognize them. To a man, however, those who had completed the journey reported that they felt the presence of One unseen to guide them on their perilous track. Somehow they knew that they were not alone.

As we make our way through life, strangers in a foreign country as it were (1 Pet 2:11), we need to know the presence of the One who will carry us safely to our appointed destination. We need to hear the voice of God in His word and prayer. So God appeared to Abram and restated the essential promise to him: “to your offspring I will give this land.” This, we know from Genesis 15:1ff was the besetting question uppermost in Abram’s mind.

So God comes to us in our time of need and encourages us with his voice: “So do not fear for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa 41:10). What a breath of fresh air!

Faith Proclaims God’s Way in the World

A faith that is biblical, a faith like Abram’s, gives rise to radical obedience, hopes in the fulfillment of God’s promises of blessings, and grows through trials. But it also continues to proclaim God’s ways in the world, as vv. 7b-9 point out.

Abram’s response in v. 7b to God’s appearing and His reassuring word in 7a was to worship. The text says that God appeared to Abraham and said…so Abram built an altar there to YHWH who had appeared to him.” Though the passage does not explicitly say that he sacrificed, we can be sure from Noah’s example in chapter 9—as well as Abraham’s in 22:13—that Abram offered sacrifice to the Lord.

Worship is the first and foremost response to the voice of God. Obedience, and the proclamation of God’s grace and greatness inexorably follows like the rainbow after spring showers.

Thus worship has consequences. Verse 8 says that Abraham pitched his tent between Bethel and Ai which probably indicates that he stayed there for some time. And, during his time there, he continued to worship by building an altar. But then notice that the text also says that Abram called on the name of the Lord. This phrase “called on the name of the Lord” is used in Genesis 4:26; 13:4; 21:33; 26:25, etc. It means much more than simple worship. It carries the idea of proclaiming the name of the Lord (cf. Zeph 3:9). Isn’t it interesting that God promised Abram to make his name great and here Abram is making the Lord’s name great in Canaan? In the midst of a foreign and thoroughly pagan land Abram erected an altar and there proclaimed the name of the Lord. What amazing faith! He truly shone like a star in the universe by holding out the word of life in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (cf. Phil 2:16).

In contrast to Abram who attempted to make a name for YHWH, the Shinarites of Genesis 11 tried to make a name for themselves.6 They tried to make a name for themselves and indeed they did, but it’s not the kind of name one would want for oneself! They are named among those who received the judgment of God (11:4). So much for our own agendas in God’s world. “Seek great things for yourself, seek them not!” Abram did not seek his own glorification, but the Lord’s, and so throughout Genesis and indeed throughout all of Scripture God highly exalted him (James 4:10; 1 Pet 5:5-6).

In Sports Spectrum Ken Walker tells how after a Monday night football game in 1990 several players did something for the first time that would later become a common sight. When the game ended between the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants, eight players from both sides gathered in a huddle in the center of the field at the 40-yard line nearer to the scoreboard. There they bowed their knees for all to see and prayed together in the name of Jesus Christ.

The brief prayer meetings caught on and gained their highest visibility several years later with Reggie White and his 1997 Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers. One Packer, Eugene Robinson, explains the purpose of the players coming together to bow their knees: “We don’t pray about who wins the game or any of that stuff. That’s not what it’s there for. We pray basically as an acknowledgment of who God is and that men will see that He exists.”

The players have taken heat for their public stand. An article in Sports Illustrated advised the players to pray in private, and the NFL made noises for awhile as though they would shut the practice down. But the players stood firm, some saying they were willing to be fined for the practice, and prayer huddles went on.7

Just like Abram these players were trying to make a name, as it were, for the Lord Jesus Christ, and not for themselves. They worshipped God through Jesus Christ and the proclamation of his existence and saving grace was the most natural thing in the world for them to do. Faith cannot help speaking about what it has seen and heard!

So then, how did George Muller’s faith take on such strong and daring characteristics? He allowed Scripture to shape his heart for and trust in God. He meditated on Scriptural examples of faith like Abram. Abram’s life of faith challenges us to respond with obedience to God’s call, to wait patiently for his blessing, to overcome trials, and to proclaim God’s way in a very, very fallen world.

1 This material has been taken from J. B. Fowler, Jr., Illustrating Great Words of the New Testament (Nashville, Broadman, 1991), 55-56. For more information on George Muller see Nancy Garton, George Müller and His Orphans (Worthing, West Sussex : Churchman, 1987); Roger Steer, George Müller, Delighted in God, rev. ed. (Wheaton, Il.: H. Shaw, 1981); Basil Miller, George Muller, Man of Faith and Miracles: A Biography of One of the Greatest Prayer-Warriors of the Past Century (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany, [1972], c1941); Roger Steer, George Müller, Delighted in God, rev. ed. (Wheaton, Il.: H. Shaw, 1981).

2 Genesis 11:27-12:9 forms one section in the narrative and should be understood in this way. It does, however, break down quite nicely into two sections, namely, 11:27-32 and 12:1-9, the former providing much historical background to certain assumptions about Abraham made in the latter.

3 See Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, Word Biblical Commentary, ed. David A. Hubbard and Glen W. Barker, vol. 1 (Waco: Word, 1987), 266 n 32b.

4 Marshall Shelley, “My New View of God,” Leadership (Fall 1996), 90.

5 Rosa Parks, Quiet Strength (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995).

6 See Allen P. Ross, Creation & Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988), 267.

7 Ken Walker, “Time to Bow, or Bow Out,” Sports Spectrum (Sept 1997), 22-25.

Related Topics: Basics for Christians, Missions, Faith

The Gap Theory of Genesis Chapter One

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(A Layman's Critical Appraisal)


When this work was originally written in 1975 the book Unformed and Unfilled by Weston W. Fields had not yet been published. Had it been, it is doubtful if this work would ever have been started. However, Dr. Fields' work is the result of his doctoral thesis and is written at a high academic level. This presentation is aimed at the understanding level of the average person. The author is gratified that his original thesis has been substantiated by such a scholarly work. Nevertheless it is still true that when most Christians are asked their opinion about the “Gap Theory”, they reply with something like “What theory is that?” This answer indicates that in spite of all that has been written about theistic evolution to date; little has been taught in the Sunday Schools or from the pulpit about this topic. This is even more remarkable since this theory was an integral part of the original Scofield Bible notes. Because the initial verses of the Bible are so foundational to the proper understanding and application of the remainder of the Scriptures, it is incumbent that we have a proper understanding of the issue of origins as recorded there.

My motive for producing a work of this nature is two-fold. On the one hand, my scientific training motivates me, and on the other my commitment to the Bible as the verbally inspired, inerrant word of the living God provided the incentive. As a person trained in the sciences, I have investigated, as thoroughly as I could, the claims of science in the realm of origins and evolution. I have found the evolutionary concept of a natural origin and development of all material in the universe to be destitute of true scientific proof and lacking even as a philosophical answer to man's origin, purpose and destiny. The link between evolution and the gap theory is found in the theory's statements that express a desire to provide for the lengthy time periods, or “ages,” required for evolutionary concepts and to harmonize these ages with the Biblical record of creation. My scientific rejection of the basic premises and reasoning behind the gap theory is one reason for this effort.

In regard to the Word of God, the Bible, I can best sum my feelings by referring the reader to an oft quoted passage of Scripture, II Timothy 2:15. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth” (KJV). This verse points out three very important facets of dealing with the Word of God. First, the Word is to be approached “eagerly” and with “enthusiasm”, which is what the word study implies. The Word should be more than just read, since studying implies learning, and learning comes only from understanding. It is certain that one will have to put forth more effort and dig deeply to arrive at this understanding, but this exertion will provide a sound basis for any resultant action. Second, I am to engage in this study for the purpose of pleasing God and not to satisfy the demands of men, nor to enable a dtente to exist between the absolute declarations of an almighty, omniscient God and the relativism of humanistic, secular philosophies. This purpose of Bible study should ever be recognized not only in personal study but in group study as well. Third, I am admonished to rightly divide the Word. The idea is that I am to use a straight line for my walk through the Scriptures and not a tortuous path that can lead to confusion and misunderstanding. It is apparent that the Timothy verse implies that many divide the Word improperly, and this error is to be guarded against. To allow secular theory to dictate the meaning of many important verses and passages of Scripture is not consistent with the above admonition. This verse in II Timothy is my second justification for what I have written.

I trust that what follows will be understandable, useful and meaningful to your study of the Biblical account of God’s creative actions.


The gap theory postulates that an indefinite span of time exists between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. This time span is usually considered to be quite large (millions of years) and is also reputed to encompass the so-called “geologic ages.” Proponents of the gap theory also postulate that a cataclysmic judgment was pronounced upon the earth during this period as the result of the fall of Lucifer (Satan) and that the ensuing verses of Genesis chapter 1 describe a re-creation or reforming of the earth from a chaotic state and not an initial creative effort on the part of God.

History and Purpose

The gap theory is not of recent origin but can be traced back to the early 19th century when the new discipline of geology was breaking upon the scientific scene. Theologians were in no intellectual position to argue, from a scientific basis, the claims of the geologists that the processes responsible for the formation of the surface features of the earth were occurring at almost imperceptibly slow rates as they had always done in the past (the principle of uniformity). Rather than accept the accusation that the Biblical record was no longer valid in the light of “scientific” claims, they chose to accommodate the Scriptural presentation to these new geological theories. A place had to be found for the vast ages of the past, well beyond the accounts of the first man and his environment as recorded in the Bible, and the most accommodating place was between the two aforementioned verses of Genesis.

While the gap theory, or ruin-reconstruction theory as it is sometimes called, is not the only effort at this type of accommodation, it is the most popular theory among those who feel the Biblical record of origins merits their attention. Some have even proposed that the gap should be placed prior to Genesis 1:1, but they insist on a “gap” nevertheless.

It is the author’s opinion that while these efforts at reconciling the Bible with geological claims are very enthusiastic and sincere, they are quite unnecessary. The Text, as given, is quite capable of standing alone in the face of all the criticism that can be engendered by so-called “scientific” claims and theological interpretations. One important fact should be kept in mind when considering the gap theory. This interpretation of Genesis and associated passages of Scripture was not developed in an effort to solve apparent problems with the Text. It was not difficulties with the fall of Satan or the condition of the earth during the six days that precipitated the theory. It was, and is, an effort to solve the problem of time. The time of the earth’s formation, according to natural science, is extremely long and drawn-out, while the Biblical record describes a relatively recent, rapid formation. There were, and still are, those who are quite unwilling to make a decisive choice between these two accounts and thus the gap theory.

Geological Ages and Evolution

As has been previously pointed out, the gap theory, along with other accommodation theories, is an attempt to reconcile a great age for the earth, as presented by geologists, with the relatively young age as deduced from the Biblical record. Since many proponents of the gap theory would disclaim a belief in an evolutionary process of earth history, it is instructive to evaluate the “geologic ages” to determine if they can, indeed, be separated from the theory of evolution.

The geologic ages represent the time scale of the standard geologic column. This so-called “column” is composed of animal and plant fossil remains found in layers of sedimentary and igneous rock. These remains are arranged in layers and interpreted by geologists and paleontologists to present a record of gradual developmental sequences that propose to demonstrate the gradual evolutionary change of simple forms of animal or plant life into different, more complex forms. The record of ascendancy is thought to be from simpler forms in very ancient times to the more complex forms in modern times. Figure 1 shows a simplified diagram of the geologic column with the postulated life forms and their assumed age eras. It is most important to understand that in the “geologic column” the ages of the various layers are determined by the form of the fossil remains found therein. Older levels in the column are “old” only because they contain what are believed to be simpler, more primitive, less developed or incompletely evolved life forms. The invertebrates are assumed to have evolved first, followed by fish, amphibians, reptiles and mammals in that order. It should be obvious that the basis of the structure and arrangement of the geologic column is the concept of slowly evolving life forms which in reality and fact is the THEORY OF EVOLUTION as proposed by Charles Darwin in 1859.

One can easily disclaim his or her adherence to, or belief in, evolution, but acceptance of the geologic column with its attendant “ages” contradicts this claim. The situation is an either/or one. As the old adage so well expresses it, “one cannot have his cake and eat it too.”

Scientific Dilemmas

Gap theorists hold that the need for a re-creation, as they interpret Genesis chapter one, is based on the loss of plants, animal life and surface features of the alleged prior creation due to a world-wide, complete, catastrophic judgment imposed upon the earth as a result of the fall of one called “Lucifer.” This proposed judgment would appear so complete as to even cause the loss of light upon the earth. This of course implies that the entire solar system, if not the universe, was destroyed. There can be no doubt that such a judgmental act would also have a serious, if not disastrous, effect upon the geological features of the then existent earth. Most gap proponents place this judgmental catastrophe just prior to the re-creative effort. However, its placement in reference to geological time, at the beginning or end, does not remove the following major dilemma.

The gap theory exists for the purpose of allowing the geologic “ages” as proposed by the assemblage of the geologic column. Those geologists who believe in the veracity of this “column” as to its testimony of earth and life development do not believe in or allow for a world-wide catastrophic causation for the formations therein. These geologists, being Uniformitarians, reject out-of-hand the gap theory as having any validity in describing the early earth. This is the first dilemma. The theory is rejected by the very ones it is meant to appease.

The Geologic
Column and Geologic Ages1







Modern plants, animals and man

25,000 to 975,000



Rise f mammals and higher plants

12,000,000 to 70,000,000



Modern insects and extinction of dinosaurs

70,000,000 to 200,000,000



First reptile-like birds




Earliest dinosaurs and modern corals




Primitive reptiles




Earliest insects




Rise of amphibians




First seed plants, boneless fish

200,000,000 to 500,000,000



Earliest land animals, rise of fish




Earliest vertebrates, oldest land plants




Only invertebrates, small sea life




Primitive water plants and animals

500,000,000 to 1,000,000,000



Questionable life

1,000,000,000 to 1,800,000,000

Figure 1

The second dilemma is that the effects of such a catastrophic event in earth history, as proposed by the gap theory, would preclude the survival of the very geologic phenomena the theory purports to support. Such destructive forces as to leave the earth “waste and void” (gap theory terms) in its totality would surely disturb or remove any of the evidence used to adduce the geologic column and the geologic ages in the first place.

If, as some gap theorists claim, the judgment was responsible for the formation of the fossil record, then the geologic column must have been formed rapidly contrary to the opinions of the evolutionary geologists. Thus there were no vast geologic ages in the first place. Regardless of what tack the gap theory sets out on, in regard to the judgmental catastrophe used to punish “Lucifer” prior to or subsequent to the geologic ages, the gap theory is self-negating. That is, the very concept that spawned it is done away by it. This might be referred to as a “suicidal” concept. In spite of this impasse in logic and the presence of such an imposing dilemma, the gap theory is believed to be supported by Scriptural references. This seems contradictory to the very nature and character of the God who says “. . . let us reason together . . . ”

Gap Theory Proofs

Since many of the advocates of the gap theory subscribe to the validity of the Scriptures, an effort is made to substantiate the “gap” claims by appealing to word studies and textual references connected with comments and phrases found in the Genesis narrative. These references are not too numerous, and we can deal with substantially all of them in this paper.

The first “proof” offered is usually an effort at creating an impassable distinction between the words “create” and “made” as found in the first chapter of Genesis. The contention being that only the word “create” (bara in Hebrew) can mean to call forth out of nothing and subsequently the words “make” or “form” (asah in Hebrew) must be interpreted to mean a re-fashioning or making from pre-existing material. It is presumed, by the gap theory, that this pre-existent material is the substance, or debris remaining after the earth underwent the judgmental action we have describe earlier. While it is true that the two words in question are different and can have distinct, separate meanings, they also are used synonymously throughout the Scriptures. In fact “bara” is not always used to describe a calling forth out of nothing. The word is used in Isaiah 65:18 in reference to a restored Jerusalem and not the original creation of that city. The distinction made, in support of the gap, is artificial and strained to say the least. That the two words are used to express the same concept in regard to God’s creative abilities can be seen by comparing Genesis 1:1, which uses “bara” with the following verses (all KJV) which use “asah.”

Genesis 1:31; 2:2-4
Exodus 20:11
II Kings 19:15
II Chronicles 2:12
Nehemiah 9:6
Psalms 33:6; 96:5; 115:15; 121:2; 124:8; 134:3; 136:5; 146:6
Proverbs 8:26
Ecclesiastes 3:11
Isaiah 37:16; 44:24; 45:12, 18
Jeremiah 10:12; 27:5; 32:17; 51:15

The twenty six verses listed above all use the word “asah” (make) not “bara” (create) to describe the same actions of God that are declared in Genesis 1:1, where “bara” is used. As you read these verses you will note that the majority of the cited passages refer explicitly and pointedly to the “making” of the heavens as declared in the Genesis 1:1 account. Clearly the two words are synonymous when used to describe God’s creative acts. The two words in question, “create” and “make,” are also used with the same intent and meaning when animals and man are formed. Compare Genesis 1:21 with 1:25, and then 1:26 with 1:27. One cannot argue that the 1:21 verse only pertains to “conscious life,” inasmuch as the physical bodies of the animals are also included in the stated act. Thus it is impossible to conclude that there is sufficient distinction between “bara” and “asah” so as to interpret the latter in a sense that restricts it to only meaning a “re-forming” in the Genesis narrative. Either word can, and is used to describe God’s creative acts “ex nihilo.”

A second “proof” put forth to substantiate the gap theory is the declaration that the word “was” in Genesis 1:2 should be translated “became.” This, of course, is done so as to allow a change of state to occur from verse one to verse two. That is, the initial, perfect creation of verse one “became” without form and void, indicating a transition to have occurred. It is true that the word used here in the Genesis text can be translated as either “was” or “became,” however it is the context of the passage which dictates the choice of the word. This means that the transition or change of state must first be clearly understood from the overall picture (context) as presented in the passage. Perhaps a few examples will suffice. Passages such as Genesis 3:22; 19:26; 21:20 and Exodus 7:19; 8:17; 9:10 demonstrate “became” properly used in context.

In each case a change of state is observed. Adam becomes as God; Lot’s wife becomes a pillar of salt; Ishmael becomes an archer; the water becomes blood; the dust of the earth becomes lice; the ashes become a boil. “Become” is obviously the correct choice in each of these passages since none of the subjects existed in the stated condition originally. Incidentally, these passages represent the entirety of the use of “became” as a translation of the word in question throughout the entire Pentateuch. An exact grammatical parallel of Genesis 1:2 is found in Jonah 3:3 where we read, “And Jonah arose and went into Nineveh . . . now Nineveh was an exceeding great city” (KJV). It is obvious that Nineveh did not become a great city when Jonah entered it, but its greatness is a description of its existing condition at the time of his entry. This is the case in Genesis 1:2. The earth was, from the creation event of verse one, in a condition described as “without form and void.” This was the presently existing condition and does not represent a change of state or condition. There are no words in the immediate or surrounding text which would lead one to see the condition of the earth in a context that demands the use of the word “became” in place of the word “was.” The translation “was” occurs several hundred times in the Pentateuch, each time in the context of an existing state. The “and” or “now” which introduces verse two appears to have a two-fold purpose. One is to make a smooth, even transition from verse one, to keep the dialogue flowing without interruption, and the other is to turn our attention from the all encompassing creation of God, the heavens and earth, and direct it toward a narrower perspective, the earth itself. The remainder of the discussion, and indeed the majority of the Bible itself, deals with events on or concerning the earth. Thus the assertion that the earth “became” instead of “was” really cannot be used to support the gap theory position. It does, however, as many of these so called “proof” texts do, lend weight to the oft quoted saying that a “text out of context is a pretext.”

Additional support for the gap theory is recruited, or perhaps conscripted is better, from the phrase “without form and void.” An appeal is made to consider other Biblical texts in which these words are found together and it is pointed out that these passages, Isaiah 24:1 and Jeremiah 4:23 are judgmental in character and context. This claim is true only if one limits the context to the verses, for when considered in their complete context the support begins to vanish. In both of the cited passages the judgment which is spoken of is future and is not a statement of a past action of God. The subjects of the judgments are Israel and Edom and not the entire earth. Not only is it a future judgment limited to a specific peoples, but the judgment spoken of is itself limited, not a comprehensive world wide judgment as required by the gap theory. Both Isaiah and Jeremiah, in the context of the subject judgments, show that there will be survivors on the earth (or land) that is to be “without form and void.” This would certainly not be true for the postulated condition following the world-wide catastrophe as claimed.

These two verses are not the only ones containing these words in the Old Testament. They are used in a number of places and translated with a variety of words. Without giving an exhaustive analysis of these verses, it suffices to say that they are all suitably translated by rendering the Hebrew “tohu” and “bohu” (without form, void) as “empty” and “lifeless.” Usually the implication is a place not suitable for habitation such as a desert. This condition could be the result of a judgmental action, but again as before, the context must show that to be the case. A context of divine judgment is difficult, if not impossible, to exegete from Genesis chapter one. It is clear from the text that the necessary and desirable features of an earth suitable for man’s habitation were absent in Genesis 1:2, however, this does not justify the interpretation that “without form and void” means ruined, chaotic or judged.

An additional appeal is made by the gap theorists to Isaiah 45:18 where it is stated that the earth was not created in “vain” (tohu). They claim that since this is so in Isaiah, the “tohu” of Genesis 1:2 precludes the condition of Genesis 1:1 as being contiguous. When one considers the remainder of Isaiah 45:18 the context becomes clear. The verse continues by stating that “He (God) formed (asah) it (the earth) to be inhabited.” The word in opposition to vain is inhabited, thus allowing the rendering of “tohu” as uninhabited. The verse does not then speak of a condition, but of an intention or purpose. It was not God’s purpose to create the earth to be uninhabited and the remainder of the Genesis narrative tells how God achieved His desired end, a complete creation dwelt in by those created in His own image. The concept of empty or lifeless is still suitable. Thus the phrase “without form and void” is not an indication of a chaotic state, but the earth is well ordered and awaiting further commands from God.

Some gap theorists continue on in verse two of the first chapter of Genesis and interpret the word “darkness” to describe an evil or ungodly condition. This, however, is a meaning forced upon the word by the theory and not the meaning of the text. Proceeding on to verse five finds the darkness receiving a name, “night,” and being considered as part of a twenty four hour day as implied by the words evening and morning. There is nothing in the text that would indicate that physical darkness, and that is what is in view here, has any evil connotation whatsoever. In fact the Psalmist declares in Psalm 104:20, “Thou (God) makest darkness . . . ” and then goes on in verse 24, still in context, to declare “O Lord, how manifold are thy works, in wisdom hast thou made then all” (KJV). The reference, of course, is to physical darkness or nighttime, and no evil connotation is implied. To say that an evil condition exists in Genesis 1:2 because of physical darkness is giving a meaning to the word not found elsewhere in the Scriptures. Spiritual darkness is another matter entirely, but there is no warrant for making such an inference in the Genesis verse under consideration.

Attention is often directed to the word “replenish” in Genesis 1:28 in an effort to support the gap theory postulate that this is the second go-around for life on earth. On searching through a rather thorough Hebrew lexicon, I was unable to find a single word for “replenish” or “refill.” Only the word “fill” is listed and again the context of the passage must be used to determine whether an initial or subsequent filling is meant. With the verse in question there is no textual cause to render the word “refill” as there might be in Genesis 9:1 where Noah and his sons have the job of starting all over again. One cannot cease to stress the importance of contextual consideration when investigating the meaning, use or implication of words and phrases in the Scriptures.

Perhaps the most touted “proof” offered for the gap theory resides in the speculation that the “gap” provides an excellent place to chronologically insert the fall and judgment of Lucifer into earth history. Elaborate details are invoked to picture the perfect creation in verse one despoiled by a cataclysmic judgment of sin prior to verse two that resulted as a consequence of Lucifer’s prideful attitude toward God and his (Lucifer’s) subsequent punishment. This argument is probable the most impressive of all inasmuch as Satan (Lucifer) is a viable reality to those who believe the Scriptures and his attitude toward God and God’s attitude toward him is clearly revealed. The “proof” texts offered in this cause are of course, Isaiah 14:12 to 15, and Ezekiel 28:12 to 19. These texts have been quoted to the end mentioned above so many times that we have a tendency to accept them as such. However, it would appear that a very careful study of the entire context and the wording of the above passages reveal a slightly different picture. First consider the Isaiah passage. To set the context begin at least with chapter 13 and read through verse 23 of chapter 14. One will immediately see that the subject of this entire judgmental passage is the kingdom of Babylon. The prophecy is stated to be about Babylon (chapter 13:1) and its judgment, and in chapter 14 a restoration of Israel is first mentioned, then the portion from verse 4 to 23 is called a “proverb” or “taunting speech” (KJV marginal note). This is to be a “saying,” if you will, of Israel in regard to their former enemy and conqueror during the captivity. With Israel, the downtrodden, restored in verses 1 and 2 and Babylon the great one, completely destroyed, Israel can boast to the other nations of their (Israel’s) favor in the eyes of the Lord (perhaps as a warning) and they are to do so with the passage under consideration. Verse 12 of chapter 14 does not begin a new thought on the subject, but is an integral part of a smooth flowing narrative describing the defeated and demolished Babylon. Perhaps it is the word “Lucifer” of verse 12 which causes this verse to be removed from its context and made to describe a totally unrelated event. The Hebrew words translated “Lucifer” are literally nothing more than “day star,” “shining one” or “sun of the dawn,” and are used as a description of the king of Babylon. The Babylonians gave great credence to astrology and perhaps there is some implication of that in this passage. The language used in the text is such as would be used by the king of Babylon to describe himself, and thus becomes even more caustic (the purpose of the saying) when compared to his final end. The language of verses 13 and 14 likewise reflect the extreme egocentric thinking that is usually present in the mind of an absolute, tyrannical monarch. The purpose of such descriptions is to establish a very vivid and marked contrast between the two conditions of the kingdom of Babylon, from the heights of greatness and prosperity to the depths of eternal hell.

The passage goes on to describe some of the king’s actions such as “shaking kingdoms,” and “destroying cities.” This, of course, would require a civilization (human) to be present at that time, and the judgment of such persons, if the gap exists, presents some very difficult theological problems, in relation to their eternal destiny, that will not be dealt with in this paper. The king is also referred to as one “. . . who would not let his captives go home.” This, undoubtedly, refers to the Israel captivity in Babylon, and not an action of Satan himself. The text continues to describe kings who have died prior to the fall of the subject monarch, (verses 18-20) and were not destroyed by a world-wide judgment. One additional fact should be pointed out to help establish the point that a human king and not Satan is the subject. Verse 22 declares that God will keep any relative of the deposed regent from ever regaining the throne of Babylon. God says, in effect, that He is ending the dynasty. Certainly there would have been no need for such action had Satan been the ruler in view. The angels of heaven have no descendants. The conclusion, therefore, is that the passage in question refers rather explicitly to a human ruler who lives, reigns and dies subsequent to the events of Genesis chapter one.

In regard to the Ezekiel passage, there is perhaps more debate on the application of this text than the Isaiah passage due to the language employed. Yet, the text itself again tells us to whom the message is to be applied, “a lamentation upon the king of Tyre.” In fact the context of this portion goes back to the beginning of chapter 26 where prophecies against Tyre begin. It should also be observed that the section of Ezekiel beginning with chapter 19 and continuing through chapter 39 consists of a series of prophecies against various nation and city-states, namely Israel, Jerusalem, Samaria, Babylon, Ammon, Tyre, Egypt, Seir, Gog, Magog and other individuals and places. All of these prophecies are apparently aimed at the future of real, earthly, human kingdoms, and there is no suggestion that Ezekiel has been commanded to utter a prophecy against any heavenly creatures. While it is argued that the language of chapter 28:12-17 cannot be applied to any earthly being, but must refer to one possessing angelic qualities, it can also be said that the same contrast as in the Isaiah passage is being developed. While the language is highly symbolic and figurative, it is an attempt to demonstrate that the elegance of position and possession of authority should not be allowed to go to one’s head. No matter how exalted the person or place is, in man’s eyes, there is always a responsibility to God attendant with the blessed condition. All authority is given by God (Romans 13:1) and the authority is thus responsible to God. When the nation’s leader or any authority sees itself as the origin of that authority and engages in unwarranted self-esteem, it is usually brought down in a humbling fashion.

Similar language to that of Chapter 28:12 to 17 is found in chapter 31:3 through 17 where the already fallen Assyrians are described as being envied by all the “trees of Eden that were in the garden of God." Their downfall, through pride, is described in verse 10 of this passage. Verse 18 indicates that symbology is being used in reference to the trees of Eden since they are said to be “slain” and “cast into the nether parts of the earth.” It is this same type of symbology that is being used throughout the Ezekiel discourse, and it cannot be firmly linked to a description of a previous downfall of Satan and the introduction of sin into the universe. How Satan came to be what he is, is shrouded in mystery, however his judgment and fall from heaven is described and it is a future event, not past history. Satan still has access to heaven as the account in Job 1:6,7 clearly indicates. Satan is also described as standing before the heavenly throne accusing the brethren. Revelation 12:7 to 13 describes this and the fall of Satan to earth. Revelation 20:10 describes the judgment imposed upon Satan. Jesus’ comment in Luke 10:18 can only be interpreted as a prophetic statement in light of the Revelation verses. There are no other verses in the entire Bible that force an historical, as opposed to a prophetic, interpretation of these verses.

The verses of Genesis chapter 1 most certainly describe the beginning of the physical universe (time, energy/matter, and dimension) suitable for occupation by man. Job 39:7 would infer that spiritual beings were present during this event. Of course we know that all things were created (Col. 1:16, John 1:3), but the chronology of the created spiritual beings is not given. It must be noted that even if Satan was already "fallen" before the creation of the physical universe, the physical universe could still be referred to as "very good." One could speculate that when the "morning stars sang" and the "sons of God shouted for joy" that Satan, seeing the creation of the earth and the inhabitants thereon, desired to rule over them. This of course would not support the Gap Theory postulate of a "fall" between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis. Finding Satan in his degenerate state in Genesis 3 has always been a theological conundrum.

Returning for the moment to the “proof” texts of Isaiah and Ezekiel, we do not find in these texts any wording or comments that imply or state that the imposed judgments, on the various kings and kingdoms, were global in scale or effect. Thus, even if one were to allow for a parallel between these verses and the fall of Satan, there is no textual justification for imposing a primeval world-wide, cataclysmic judgment upon the entire earth. The only judgment of such a nature, to date, is found in Genesis chapter 7 and this event is subsequent to Genesis 1:1,2.

In regard to the subject of the fall of Satan and the Genesis “gap” the question might be asked, “if the gap is a necessary time interval during which the ‘fall’ is accomplished, how long does it take to achieve such a ‘fall’ and subsequent judgment?” One cannot really answer such a question. However, the descriptions of the fall (Luke 10:18 and Revelation 12:19) would certainly imply a rapid descent, and the judgment (Revelation 20:20) does not appear to be a lingering event. So if we allow, for the sake of discussion, that this future event did occur between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 there is no need to postulate vast ages of time, other than to support the geologic ages of evolutionary presuppositions.

Textual Harmony Problems

We have looked, in some detail, at the verses quoted by the gap theorists in support of their position. There are many other Scriptural problems that the gap theory must also face. In understanding God’s word to us we must consider each part of the revealed text in relation to every other part. That is, the Scriptures must present themselves as a unified whole, non-contradictory and cohesive throughout. Each precept and doctrine must be supported by all pertinent sections of the Bible and where conflicts occur, we must question our interpretation or understanding of the subject in question. The gap theory should be analyzed in just such a fashion. The descriptive statements promulgated in support of the theory must be compared to all of Scripture, not just the “proof” texts we have already considered. With this in mind the following is offered for your consideration.

The developmental sequence of the creation week (six days) must not only be thought of in a chronological sense, but it must also be considered as a cumulative event as well. That is, the conditions brought about on day one are still present on day two, and day two really represents a sum of the actions of day one and two, and so on through the week. The gap theorists have Satan fallen to the earth prior to day one, but still present throughout the subsequent week. They postulate, for example, that day two is not described as “good” since the atmosphere was made that day, and Satan is known as the “prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). There are two problems that occur with this reasoning. First, Satan is also referred to as the “prince of this world” three times in the Gospel of John alone, and the earth (world) is nevertheless called “good” in Genesis 1:10. Secondly, if Satan is present, and we all agree that he is the embodiment of evil and ungodliness, why does the summary statement of Genesis 1:31 declare that everything that God had made during the week was not only “good,” but “very good?” Incidentally, this verse also covers the creative acts of day two, when the atmosphere was made, so it too is considered “very good.” It would appear that there would be conditions present on the earth (the fossil record) subsequent to the gap theory judgment and during the creation week that would give stark testimony to the death and destruction of the proposed wrath of God. How these conditions, which would still be evident in the “fossil record,” could be called “very good” with the reason (Satan) for the destruction still at liberty on the earth is hard to understand.

The gap theorists would have us believe that a long break occurs between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 and then in verse three the “re-creation” week begins. This reasoning would separate the “creation of heaven and earth” from the rest of the week by some indefinite time period, and certainly then, by their own reasoning, the ‘heaven and earth” creation cannot be considered to be a part of the re-creative week which follows. There are some Scriptures which disagree with this logic, namely Genesis 2:1 to 4 and Exodus 20:11 and 31:17. These verses clearly include the creation or making of the “heaven and earth” within the six creative days. To insist on a creation of the “heaven and earth” separate from the six stated days does great injustice to these texts. It must be pointed out that the Genesis 1:1 statement is the only creative statement in the entire first chapter with reference to “heaven.” If we are to understand the words of the Exodus verses in the sense of their clear, plain meaning and common usage, then we must conclude that day one began with Genesis 1:1, and therefore no gap.

The postulated judgment of the pre-Adamic world is said by the gap theorists to be a complete and catastrophic dealing with sin as a result of Satan’s fall. This judgment is claimed to have destroyed a perfect earth and all its inhabitants. It is assumed that this destruction resulted in the death of those primeval beings who populated the planet at that time. Since we are obviously dealing with the earth and not the entire universe, a major conflict arises between the theory and other Scriptures. A study of the fifth chapter of Romans reveals that death did not appear on the earth prior to Adam’s transgression. Added to this are the claims of I Corinthians 15:21, 22 that by “man came death” and “as in Adam all die.” It is easily seen from these Scriptures that death on the earth did not precede Adam’s sin, but resulted from it. To insist that anything died prior to the judgment passed upon Adam is to be in contradiction with these passages in Romans and Corinthians. We must remember that one of the reasons for having a gap theory in the first place is to accommodate the geologic ages with their extensive fossil records. The fossil record which is assumed to have developed slowly over the eons, speaks clearly and eloquently of death and destruction and if it is allowed to be found prior to either Satan’s or Adam’s fall as the adherents of the theory claim, then the logic leads us to the conclusion that death is not the result of anyone’s sin, but must be attributed to the design and purpose of God in His alleged “original” creation. This reasoning is quite contrary to the person and character of God. In a context of judgment and deserved death (Ezekiel 18:32 and 33:11), God declares “I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth” (KJV, emphasis mine).

It would appear from the claims of the gap theory that the fossil record can be explained in one of two ways. First the classical evolutionary concept of a slow formation using presently observed (?) processes acting at present rates (uniformitarianism), or as a result of the postulated cataclysm resulting from the judgment of Satan. The first concept, which needs the geological “ages” and is believed by a large segment of the population, we reject as being a patently unscientific concept to account for sudden death and preservation of soft parts of animal structures. The second concept allows for an abrupt change in the environment which could achieve the observed result. There is, however, a major problem with this concept since it places this calamity prior to the great world-wide flood of Noah’s day, which in reality is the true explanation for the majority of the fossil record. If the ruinous event proposed for Genesis 1:2 is the cause of the fossil records that we see today, what effect did the flood of Genesis chapter 7 have upon the earth? In an effort to solve this problem, many gap theorists have proposed one of two flood views. The first, and most absurd, is that of a “tranquil,” world-wide flood. In this concept the water that covered the earth rose and abated with nor much more than a ripple. It is postulated that the waters were so gentle that they had no effect on the surface features of the earth. This precludes the effects of tides, so the moon, whose gravity attraction is responsible for the ocean tides, must not have existed either. Also the observation of one heavy rainstorm refutes this concept. The second, and more prevalent, view is that the flood of Noah’s day was only a “local” flood and not world-wide in scope or effect. This idea is in conflict with the many Scriptures describing the flood, but the most serious problem it raises is found when reading the statements of God as found in Genesis 8:21 and 9:15. God says, in these verses, that He will never again food the earth as He did in Noah’s day. Now, if His action was only that of causing a local flood in the Mesopotamian valley, then the promise to never do such a thing again has been broken time and time again over the ensuing centuries. This explanation of the flood does nothing more than impugn the veracity of God!

As a last example of the gap theory’s inability to harmonize with the full content of the Scriptures, let us look for a moment at a particularly important verse, Romans 14:12. This verse teaches the individual responsibility of man before God. I am not responsible for your sin any more than you are responsible for mine. My sin is an act of my will and expresses my corrupt nature as inherited from Adam. Nevertheless it is I alone that must give an account of my relationship with God. I can claim the blood of Jesus Christ as payment for my individual sin and be accounted as acceptable to be in God’s presence or, as many have, reject the gracious provision given by God. The point is it is an individual undertaking, and decision either way. This concept is not hidden in obscure Biblical texts requiring complicated interpretations to unravel, but is the open claim of the entire Scriptures. With this thought in mind, it is difficult to conceive of a disastrous judgment upon the earth and all its inhabitants because of the action of one angel whose home was not the earth in the first place. This appears to be contrary to the perfect judgmental actions of God as recorded throughout the Bible. Abraham put it very well when he was pleading (indeed bargaining) with God not to destroy Sodom. In Genesis 18:25 we read, “Far be it from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: . . . Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? (KJV)" To have slain all those dwelling on the earth for the misconduct of an angel would be capricious to say the least. There are no verses that declare that the entire earth became sinful after a “fall” of Satan. Each angel is responsible for their own behavior before the God who created them, just as I am.


The previous sections of this paper have attempted to demonstrate that the so called “gap theory” is unacceptable from several points of view. From a scientific perspective there is no support from either the facts of science or the postulates of the evolutionary concept of “geologic ages.” As to the theory’s relation to Scriptural content, it has been shown that the claimed “proofs” are superficial and mostly contradictive to the immediate and overall context of the verses applied. These problems are not unexpected, and the incomplete acceptance of such a theory by the Biblical community comes as no surprise when one considers that the primary purpose of the theory is an attempt at reconciliation with humanistic science. This appeasement must be rejected in whatever form it is found since it can only detract from the sacred Scriptures and can add nothing to them. There is nothing in the considered Genesis text that requires such a concept as the gap theory. Our understanding of God’s Word is important and vital both in Christian witnessing and in the conduct of our personal lives.

It is important to understand that this presentation is not meant to attack the proponents of the gap theory but only the theory itself. This theory, originating as it has, falls in the category of a deceptive teaching which can have adverse effects upon those who will believe it. It is in this context that we should heed the warning given by the Apostle Peter (II Peter 3:17,18):

“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing you know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked fall from your own steadfastness. But grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (KJV).


Allis, Oswald T. The Five Books of Moses. Philadelphia, PA: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1969.

Chafer, Lewis Sperry. Systematic Theology Vol. II. Dallas, TX: Dallas Seminary Press, 1964.

Feinberg, Charles Lee. The Prophecy of Ezekiel. Chicago, IL: Moody, 1969.

Fields, Weston W. Unformed and Unfilled. Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1976.

Gish, Duane T. Evolution the Fossils Say No. San Diego, CA: ICR, 1973.

Hartill, J. Edwin. Principles of Biblical Hermeneutics. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1960.

Henry, Matthew. Commentary on the Whole Bible, Vol. 1: Genesis to Deuteronomy. New York, NY: Revell.

Keil-Delitzsch. Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. 1: The Pentateuch. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

--------. Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. 7: Isaiah. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

--------. Commentary on the Old Testament, Vol. 9: Ezekiel. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Lammerts, Walter E. (ed.) Scientific Studies in Special Creation. Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1971.

Leupold, H. C. Exposition of Genesis, Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1975.

Mitchell, Edward C. (ed.) Student’s Hebrew Lexicon; Based on Gesenius and Furst. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1960.

Morris, Henry M. Biblical Cosmology and Modern Science. Nutley, NJ: Craig, 1972.

--------. The Remarkable Birth of Planet Earth. San Diego, CA: ICR, 1973.

--------. (ed.) Scientific Creationism. San Diego, CA: Creation Life, 1974.

Rumball, C. L. Chaos and Darkness. In Slavic Evangel. July-August, 1958.

Seagraves, Kelly L. Jesus Christ Creator. San Diego, CA: Creation Science Research Center, 1973.

Waltke, Bruce, K. The Creation Account in Genesis 1:1-3. Part I. In Bibliothecasacra. Vol. 132, No. 525. Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, January-March 1975.

___________. The Creation Account in Genesis 1:1-3. Part II. In Bibliothecasacra. Vol. 132, No. 526. Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, April-June 1975.

Young, Edward J. Studies in Genesis One. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1964.

Young, Robert. Analytical Concordance to the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Zimmerman, Paul A. (ed.) Creation, Evolution and God’s Word. St. Louis, MO: Concordia, 1972.

1 Adapted from Morris, H., Whitcomb, J. The Genesis Flood. Philadelphia: Presbyterian and reformed, 1973. p.133.

Related Topics: Man (Anthropology), Creation

Preface to Genesis: from Paradise to Patriarchs

As the result of a tragic incident, a very young woman had a child out of wedlock. This child was given up for adoption, not to be seen or heard from for many years. As this woman entered the later years of her life, that son called her on an Easter weekend. When this mother and son met for the first time in many years, her son told her of the efforts he had expended to find her. His adoptive parents were wonderful, loving people, but he was compelled to meet his biological mother. He wanted to know from whence he had come, and the one who had begotten him.

This story could be repeated, in various forms, many times over. We all want to know where we have come from. Gentiles who have come to faith in Jesus Christ have been adopted into the family of God. In biblical terms, we have been grafted into the life of the vine, and that vine is Israel (see Romans chapter 11). Our “roots” as Christians run very deep in Bible history. We should want to know where we have come from, and it is the Book of Genesis that describes these origins.

In Genesis, we find an account of the origin of our world, and of mankind (chapters 1 and 2). We find as well the origin of human depravity and sin in the “fall of man” depicted in Genesis chapter 3. We see its devastating effects in the wickedness of men and its dire consequences in the judgment of God in the curse (chapters 3 and 4), in the flood (chapters 6-9), in the confusion at Babel (chapter 11), and in the annihilation of Sodom and Gomorrah (chapters 18 and 19). We also see the grace of God in His provisions for man’s salvation, beginning with the promise of salvation in Genesis 3:15, being further evidenced in the ark and God’s covenant with Noah (chapters 6-9), in the rescue of Lot and his family (chapter 19), in the covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3, etc.), and in the sojourn of Israel in Egypt (chapters 37ff.).

Genesis is not a “once upon a time” fairy tale. It is history, but written in such a way as to hold our attention throughout its 50 chapters. Let us approach this study with the enthusiasm it deserves. Let us listen and learn from whence we have come, as well as to learn more of that “paradise” to which all true Christians are destined.

I would suggest that before you begin to study this book (and these messages about it) in detail, you begin by sitting down and reading through the entire book, in one sitting if possible. It will be time well spent. And then I would urge you to pray that God would make the message and the meaning of this book clear to you, in a way that will be a part of the transformation of your life (see Ephesians 4:17-24). And when you pray, ask God that He would grant that you see more of Christ, for He is certainly to be found in this great book.

An Introduction to the Book of Exodus

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A. In Hebrew the name of the book is taken from the first two words in the book twmv hlaw (these are the names). Sometimes it is shortened to simply names (twmv).

B. In the Greek LXX the book is named EXODOS (Exodus) emphasizing the departure of Israel from Egypt


A. This date emphasizes the literal interpretation of the biblical numbers in Exodus 12:40 (Now the time that the sons of Israel lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years), Judges 11:26 (While Israel lived in Heshbon and its villages, and in Aroer and its villages, and in all the cities that are on the banks of the Arnon, three hundred years, why did you not recover them within that time?) and 1 Kings 6:1 (Now it came about in the four hundred and eightieth year after the sons of Israel came out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord).

B. Hill and Walton offer the following arguments for an early date:1

1. 1 Kings 6:1 indicates the Exodus occurred 480 years prior to the 4th year of Solomon's reign. His 4th year is variously dated at 966/960/957 B.C., placing the Exodus at 1446/1440/1437.

2. According to Judg. 11:26, Israel had occupied Canaan for 300 years before the judgeship of Jephthah, which is dated between 1100 and 1050. This dates Joshua's conquest between 1400 and 1350. Adding Israel's 40 years in the desert puts the Exodus between 1440 and 1390.

3. Moses lived in exile in Midian 40 years (Acts 7:3; cf. Exod. 2:23) while the pharaoh of the oppression was still alive. The only pharaohs who ruled 40 years or more were Thutmose III (1504-1450) and Rameses II (1290-1224).

4. The Merneptah Stela (ca. 1220) indicates Israel was already an established nation at the time.

5. The Amarna tablets (ca. 1400) speak of a period of chaos caused by the Habiru, very likely the Hebrews.

6. The early date allows for the length of time assigned to the period of the judges (at least 250 years). The late date allows only 180 years.

7. The Dream Stela of Thutmose IV indicates he was not the legal heir to the throne (i.e., the legal heir would have died in the tenth plague).

8. Archaeological evidence from Jericho, Hazor, etc., supports a 15th-century date for the Exodus

9. Exod. 12:40 dates the entrance of Jacob into Egypt during the reign of Sesostris/Senusert III (1878-43) rather than during the Hyksos period (1674-1567).

10. Therefore a plausible (and approximate) reconstruction would be as follows:2

a. 966 = 4th full year (actually into the fifth) of Solomon's reign (971-931) when the Temple was begun

b. +44 yrs = start of David's reign (1010)

c. +40 yrs = start of Saul's reign (1050)

d. +40 yrs = the time from Saul to Jephthah's statement (1050-1090)

e. +300 yrs = the time in the land (Jephthah's statement) (1390)

f. +16 yrs = Joshua's leadership (1406)

g. +40 yrs = wilderness wondering (1446)

This matches 1 Kings 6:1 where 966 + 480 = 1446!


+430 yrs = the time that Israel lived in Egypt before the Exodus (Ex. 12:40) and therefore Jacob moved to Egypt in 1876.


A. Rameses II:

1. Scholars who hold to a late date of the Exodus (c. 1290-1225 BC) identify Rameses II (c. 1304-1237) as the Pharaoh of the Exodus

2. In addition the name of the city in Exodus 1:11 is Rameses

a. It is possible that Rameses II merely took credit for the city and the biblical reference was modernized3

b. It is possible that the Ramasides was to be identified with the Hyksos who oppressed Israel and that the city was called Rameses in their time4

B. Amenhotep II (c. 1436-1410)

1. It is possible that Hatshepsut (1490-1469) may have been the princess who reared Moses

2. Thutmose III (c. 1490-1436?) ruled as co-regent with his stepmother until her death for 56 years. This allows for the time when Moses was in exile in Midian (cf. Acts 7:3; Exodus 2:23)

3. Amenhotep II (c. 1436-1410) may have been the Pharaoh of the Exodus. Note that the Bible does not say that he drowned but that he led a battle to the water's edge.

4. The dream inscription of Tutmose IV (c. 1410-1402?) may indicate that he was not originally intended to be Pharaoh. Therefore, his brother would have died in the plagues5


A. Two Basic Views:

1. The Northern View: The Exodus took place at a lagoon bordering the Mediterranean Sea

2. The Southern (Central) View: The Exodus took place south of Succoth near Lake Balah or Lake Timsah

B. Textual Clues (Exodus 13:17-22; 14:1-2; Num 33:1-49)

1. The Lord did not lead Israel by the way of the land of the Philistines (probably the Way of the Sea which was the direct route along the Mediterranean coast to Palestine)6 13:17

2. The Lord led the people by the way of the wilderness to the Red7 Sea 13:18

3. The Lord led Israel from Rameses to Succoth Ex 12:37; Num 33:5

4. Israel set out from Succoth and camped in Etham on the edge of the wilderness 13:20

5. Israel turned back and camped before Pihahiroth, between Midgol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephron opposite it by the sea 14:2

6. Israel went by the Way of the Wilderness (Ex 13:18) after crossing the Sea of Reeds and entered the Wilderness of Shur (Ex 15:22; Num 33:8) in the Northwest Sinai peninsula

C. Although a definitive conclusion is not possible because of the uncertainty of many of the locations in the biblical text, it seems that the Southern (Central) view matches what is known more than the northern view8

D. The Location of Mount Sinai Seems to Be Southern:

1. Some have located Mount Sinai in northwest Arabia partly on the grounds that it was considered that a volcano was required to explain the events in Exodus 19:16-25, but this is better understood as a typical Theophany. Also, Moses was not only related to the Midianites (Ex 3:1; 18:1) whose homeland was considered to be in the region of Arabia, but he was related to the Kenites who were a nomadic Midianite clan whose presence in the Sinai region is well documented (cf. Judges 1:16; 4:11)

2. The biblical text indicates that Mount Sinai was an eleven-day journey from Kadesh-barnea (Dt 1:2)

3. Elijah took 40 days and 40 nights (a long journey?) to reach Sinai from Beersheba (1 Kgs 19:8)

4. Jebel Musa (Arabic for Mountain of Moses), or Mount Horeb, in the southern Sinai peninsula has been identified as the Mount Sinai of Moses' revelation by Christian tradition dating to the fourth century AD9


A. The journey between Egypt and the Wilderness of Sinai and Mount Sinai took three months to the day (Ex 19:1-2)

B. It is possible that Moses composed the book during or shortly after the encampment of the people at Sinai (1446)

C. The book occurred sometime before Moses' birth in 1526 (Ex 2)

D. Therefore, the book of Exodus covers events around the birth of Moses to events at Mount Sinai (c. 1526-1446 BC)


A. To introduce Israel to her national beginnings by narrating the events which form the people and the nation and by instructing the people in the covenant relation and his ritual dwelling10

B. To narrate the battle between YHWH and Egypt on behalf of his people to bring about their deliverance from slavery

C. To explain the readiness of the people to accept YHWH's revelations of the Law

D. To describe the impatience of the people awaiting YHWH's enthronement among the people according to his design

E. To present the new constitution under which Israel will relate to YHWH (the Mosaic Covenant)

F. To connect the people under the God's promise to Abraham to the beginning of the theocratic kingdom under Moses

G. To reveal God as YHWH--the one who will keep his promises

H. To express the importance of maintaining covenant relationship with YHWH

1 A Survey of the Old Testament, 108.

2 Wood, A Survey of Israel's History, 88-90.

3 Unger, Archaeology of the Old Testament, 149.

4 Wood, A Survey of Israel's History, 93.

5 Unger, Archaeology of the Old Testament, Prichard, ANET, 449.

6 This argues against the northern route.

7 More literally this refers to the Sea of (papyrus) Reeds ([Ws <y) describing the area between the Gulf of Suez and the Mediterranean Sea were there are many marshy lagoons and lakes.

8 Also See Hill and Walton, A Survey of the OT, 108-10; Hannah, Exodus, 107, Merrill, Numbers, 253-54 BKC.

9 See La Sor et al, Old Testament Survey, 130, n. 38.

10 Elliott E. Johnson, Class notes taken by student.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines

The Christian's Present Possessions in Christ

The first three chapters of the epistle deal with doctrine; the last three chapters, with duty. In the first half Paul explains the riches of God’s grace; in the last half he exhorts the recipients of God’s grace.

Two verses give Paul’s usual method of opening a letter. In this, the salutation, the writer designates the author and the addressee: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus” (1:1).

There are no serious doubts among commentators concerning the Pauline authorship of this epistle. Confined in a prison in Rome, well stricken in years, Paul writes a letter different from his other epistles. Controversy is absent. Warning against any particular error of doctrine is missing. Yet this particular difference causes no concern, for both the external and internal evidence are convincingly strong.

Paul designates himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” He was alike Christ’s possession and His representative. The risen Lord having both saved and sent him, Paul became God’s minister to the Gentiles. Having completely surrendered his life to the Lord Jesus Christ, his learning, zeal, and teaching ability were all consecrated to the service of his Master. He was truly an apostle “by the will of God.”

“By the will of God” gives additional authority to Paul’s position as an apostle. When a man is sent by the will of God, then his hearers will do well to heed his message. Right here we might notice that the will of God is mentioned four times in this first chapter (verses 1, 5, 9, 11). The will of God reaches far back into eternity past, long before the foundations of the earth were laid. What a blessed privilege every servant of God has when he is called to make this known to others! Let us exercise the greatest care lest we interpose anything between the will of God and ourselves while we are here on earth. The human will has no place or function in redemption or in active service apart from the divine will. Every exercise of the spirit, mind and body reaches its loftiest position only when it is motivated by God’s will.

The letter is addressed “to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.” The word for “saint” is hagios, and it means a holy one. Paul usually applied this term to the true child of God. The primary meaning of the word is separated or set apart.

The Roman Catholic Church has tainted the word “saint” with so much superstition that it is almost impossible to restore it to its original and intended use. Today its application is to any who exhibit an exceptional, artificial type of piousness, or to those whose own works merit the Pope’s canonization. According to the Bible, all Christians are saints (Heb. 10:10, 14). The temple was at one time holy, not because of its materials and magnitude, but because it was a set-apart place for the service of Jehovah. The altars were holy, the vessels were holy, the sacrifices were holy, the priests were holy, all because they were divinely chosen to discharge the function of holy service to the Lord. People in their ignorance call theirs the “All Saints Church,” and refer to the apostles as “Saint Peter” and “Saint Paul,” but God calls all who have been washed in the blood of the Lord Jesus and born again by the Holy Spirit “saints” (I Cor. 1:2).

It is God who sanctifies us. He sets us apart; we do not consecrate ourselves. “Saint” suggests no personal merit on man’s part, but a condescending act of Almighty God in setting apart those who believe in His Son. H. A. Ironside has said: “We do not become saints by saintliness, but we should be characterized by saintliness because we are saints.”

The letter, moreover, is intended for “the faithful in Christ Jesus.” The “faithful” are not mere professors but those who demonstrate their sainthood by their saintliness. Faithfulness to Him whose name is held, bears witness to others of God’s calling. Faith in Christ is much more than intellectual assent; it includes a surrender of the intellect, the heart, and the will to Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. The name and fame of a church and its testimony will remain only so long as its members are “faithful in Christ Jesus.” When a man truly has faith in Christ he will keep faith with Christ. If one is not true to Christ, then he has exercised no faith in Christ.

The typical Pauline salutation continues with the words: “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:2). Paul combined the two forms of salutation used by the Greeks and the Hebrews to send his Christian greeting. Here is a twofold blessing from two persons. The Father sends His grace and peace; the Son says: “Give them Mine, also.” It could not be otherwise, since the Son shares the exalted position with the Father “in the heavenlies.” God and Christ are One, thus they are the one source of “grace and peace.” The gospel that Paul preached is always known as the gospel of grace, the gospel of the unmerited favor of God.

Notice that God will not offer peace apart from grace. Nor can any man have peace before he accepts God’s grace. These two words form no mere conventional courtesy, as the Greeks and Hebrews might use them, but rather are they a rich Christian blessing.

Are we saints? Then let us receive and appropriate what is ours, for what is sent to us we have a right to possess. All through the pages of the New Testament the grace and peace of God in Christ shine gloriously forth. To accept His grace is to know His peace--peace not only with Him but with others also. Ephesians will unfold for us “the riches of His grace” (1:7). Twelve times in this one epistle Paul uses the word “grace.” May each of us lay claim to our possessions.

All of the following blessings are ours because of grace:

  • salvation (Eph. 2:8)
  • justification (Rom. 3:24)
  • victory over sin (Rom. 5:20)
  • power to testify (Rom. 12:3, 15:15; Col. 4:6)
  • strength for service (II Tim. 2:1; Heb. 12:28)
  • a spirit of generosity (II Cor. 8:7)
  • sweetness in singing (Col. 3:16)
  • ability to stand (I Pet. 5:12)
  • strength in suffering (II Cor. 12:9)

There are doubtless many more, but these will suffice to show us the greatness of our need in appropriating God’s grace.

1. Paul’s Praise to God for What We Received (1:3-14)

The next verse is the key verse in the first half of the epistle, since it introduces us to the source of our wealth in Christ. It is definitely a word of praise: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (1:3).

The adjective translated “blessed” means to celebrate with praises. At the very outset Paul magnifies the grace of God toward the Ephesians so that they, too, might be filled to overflowing with praise. God is said to bless us when He bestows upon us every provision for our spiritual peace and prosperity. We are said to bless God when we offer praise and thanksgiving for His provision.

More than twenty-five years had passed since Paul met the Lord Jesus Christ near Damascus. Still he was counting his blessings and praising God for them. Paul is not praising God because God desires to bless him, nor because God has determined to bless him at some future time, but because God “hath” blessed him. Yes, and “us”! God is the Blesser, and the blessed are those, and those only, who have received His Son as “our Lord Jesus Christ.” The “us” here are the “saints,” and as God’s set-apart ones we are eligible for the blessings.

The nature of the blessings is said to be “spiritual.” There is possibly more than one explanation of this. First, Paul might have intended to distinguish the blessings from those mercies of God that are material, physical, and temporal, that are intended particularly for the body. Second, Paul possibly meant by “spiritual blessings” those blessings pertaining to the Holy Spirit and intended to minister to the human spirit. The saint’s citizenship is in heaven, hence he no longer sets his affection on things in the earth. Moreover, his principal needs are spiritual so that he must be “strengthened with might by His [God’s] Spirit in the inner man” (3:16).

Too many of us place the emphasis upon those things that are temporal and transient while we neglect the values that are spiritual and eternal. The Father designed every spiritual blessing for the Church. They are ours “in Christ,” and are delivered to us by the Holy Spirit. The lasting joy that God bestows upon us is not in the things of this world, but rather in “heavenly places” or, better still, “in the heavenlies.” Ours are heavenly experiences and heavenly privileges conferred upon us by God in Christ. They originate among the eternal and unseen things.

The first of the believer’s possessions for which Paul praises God follows: “According as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love” (1:4). We must see at the outset that all that God had done for us in Christ is “according to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (3:11). In eternity past, God had certain settled purposes which He accomplished at various times during the dispensations of human history, and here we are carried back into the remotest ages of past eternity where, says Paul, God was loving us and planning that all who are “in Christ . . . should be holy and without blame before Him.” God’s eternal choice, then, was that all who are in Christ should be a holy people.

The phrase “chosen us in Him” could be rendered “chose us for Himself.” Chose us for what? Not to everlasting life, but that we should be spotless for Himself! The election in the divine Mind was that all those in Christ should be “holy ones,” free from every defilement of sin.

It is not difficult to see how God should purpose in His heart, before the world came into existence, that He was going to have a holy people who would be to the praise of His glory and grace. To that end God created Adam, and in spite of the fall of man, God is still going to carry out His purpose in Christ. The divine choice will find its consummation when Christ returns for His bride “to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 24). Temporarily we are in this world, but not of it. We were chosen to be holy before its foundations were laid; we are merely passing through it to another world. We might fail to practice holiness here, but the eternal purpose of God will be fulfilled when our Lord Returns and “we shall be like Him” (I John 3:2).

God has selected a people to be His holy habitation. Are you in that company, my friend? You are, if you are “in Christ.” If you are not, you may this very day join that holy band by trusting Him as your Saviour. Then you, too, will be a part of the true Church of God’s creation and design which, on the great presentation day, will be presented a glorious Church, “holy and without blemish” (Eph. 5:25-27).

The ultimate purpose of God’s choice is not salvation but sanctification. John Calvin stated that it is wrong to say that any of us may attain perfection in this life; nevertheless, this is the goal to which the whole course of our lives must be directed, even though we cannot reach it till we have finished our course. Let us grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, saying with Paul: “. . . neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy” (Acts 20:24). And let us praise God that we have been chosen to be a part of the completed structure, a perfect Church throughout all eternity.

When God designed His Church in eternity past He “predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (1:5). The American Standard Version makes it clear that the verb translated “predestinated” is “foreordained.” It means to appoint, or to determine beforehand.

To what have we been predestinated? Neither this verse nor any other verse in the Bible teaches that God decrees that some men are foreordained to everlasting life while others are foreordained to everlasting death. Christ “gave Himself a ransom for all” (I Tim. 2:6), and “this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:3, 4).

Notice, please, that we have been foreordained unto adoption as sons. The word “adoption” is used only by Paul. To understand its meaning, you must lay aside the idea of the word as used today when, by a legal act, an adult person takes a minor, not his own, into the relation as his child. The adoption of the believer is still future, being a divine act whereby God sets a goal for the believer. Paul states clearly that our adoption is something for which the believer is “waiting” (Rom. 8:23), having been foreordained “unto” adoption. Although we do have here and now the Spirit of adoption (Rom. 8:15), His Presence in us is merely the seal, or guarantee of a future act of son-placing. Adoption does not mean son-making, for in eternity we shall be sons no more than we are now but, rather, at that time, we shall be properly placed in God’s show-case and displayed as sons. God has predestinated us unto the adoption--it is future. Therefore, His sovereign act of adoption can have nothing whatever to do with His choice of us.

In the Epistle to the Galatians, Paul explains how Jesus Christ secured our adoption for us by His death at Calvary in order that “we might receive” it (Gal. 4:5). Our present standing is that of sons; for, “beloved, now are we the sons of God.” And how wonderful this is! But, adds the Apostle John: “It doth not yet appear what we shall be” (I John 3:2). The fact of our present son-making and our future son-placing were all “according to the good pleasure of His will.” Our future position, which was God’s choice, was not only His will but His enjoyment. The mightiest angel in heaven will not share in the glory of the believer’s future position.

If you, dear reader, are not a son of God, your future is dark indeed. But even now there is time. If you trust Jesus Christ as your Saviour, God will make you His son now and place you in an exalted position as His son in eternity. Then you, too, will join in praise to God for His goodness.

Verse six teaches us that every true believer has been foreordained to be such a trophy of the grace of God as to cause men to praise the glory of His grace. Paul writes: “To the Praise of the glory of His grace, wherein He hath made us accepted in the Beloved” (1:6). These words, not to be considered by themselves, are just a link in a golden chain of thoughts beginning with verse 3.

God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing because He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him, one day to place us on display as His glorified sons. Then His holy and unblemished Church will cause men and angels to acknowledge the wonders of His infinite love and grace toward sinners.

God has foreordained that men shall extol and praise His grace in all its eternal glory. This is the terminus of His kindness toward sinners. Today this is demonstrated only meagerly in the lives of His true followers, but in the end of the age “He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all them that believe” (II Thess. 1:10).

The Lord of heaven and earth will be wondered at by all when the Church Age has run its course and the last member has been added to the Church. With mingled surprise and admiration, the spectators of earth and hell will marvel at the monument of divine grace. All who have put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ are certain to be present and a part of that magnificent exhibition, for, adds the apostle: “He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.” We are already accepted in the Father’s presence because we are in Christ. What condescending love and grace! We are accepted, but only because the Father has “made us” so. Let us continue to praise God, not only for what we have been saved from, but for what we are saved to.

These verses (1:3-14) are referred to by Charles R. Erdman as a hymn of praise consisting of three stanzas. He says that the first relates to the past: God the Father is the subject, and the refrain closes with the words, “To the praise of the glory of His grace” (1:6). The second stanza relates to the present: God the Son is the subject, and it concludes “to the praise of His glory” (1:12). The third stanza relates to the future: God the Holy Spirit is the subject, and it concludes “unto the praise of His glory” (1:14). And then Dr. Erdman shows that the three stanzas are bound into a harmonious unity by recurring references to Christ: “In the Beloved,” “In Christ,” “In Whom.”

We have come now to the second stanza of Paul’s wonderful hymn of praise (1:7-12). The first stanza makes clear the work of God in grace in eternity past. The second shows God’s grace manifested toward us now in Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry. Paul continues: “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (1:7). Before the sinner becomes saved he is a captive in the slave-market of sin. He is sold out to the world, the flesh, and the devil. As a slave in bondage he needs to be freed. Someone must purchase him and take him out of the market of sin. Christians, once bondmen, now have redemption.

The word “redemption” appears three times in Ephesians, and it means to set free by the payment of a ransom. The ransom price of the slave is the blood of Jesus Christ, and if any man is to be released from the power and penalty of sin it must be “through His blood.” The penalty for sin is death (Gen. 2:17). Death is sin’s wages (Rom. 6:23). Only a substitute life will satisfy the righteous demands of God. Since the life of the flesh is in the blood (Lev. 17:11), and the Son of man gave His life a “ransom” (Matt. 20:28), all who trust in Him are assured of release from sin’s power and penalty, but only “through His blood.” In the first stanza, the Father plans our redemption (1:4-6); in the second, the Son provides it. We shall never be able to overestimate the worth and power of the death of Jesus Christ. God displayed His wisdom and power in creation, but only in the death of His Son do we see a manifestation of divine compassion for sinners, and the only responsibility imposed upon sinners is that of believing. Redemption is a present fact: “we have redemption.”

Paul includes in the same sentence, “the forgiveness of sins.” To “forgive” is to release from guilt. God holds resentment against the unbeliever, the resentment being justly provoked by a violation of His holiness; but when the sinner comes to Christ, guilt is removed and resentment ceases. A man may forgive a friend who has wronged him, but the forgiveness cannot cancel the guilt. But when God forgives a sinner He actually remits the sin and removes the guilt. Forgiveness for the believing sinner is an act of God whereby He sets aside absolutely and eternally, by judicial decree, all condemnation and guilt. Judicial forgiveness, in contradistinction to the Father’s forgiveness of His sinning child (I John 1:9), covers all sin, and by it the believing sinner is pardoned forever. It forever absolves and acquits the sinner. But forgiveness was dear to the Forgiver. It cost the life of God’s Son.

Observe the measureless abundance of divine forgiveness--“according to the riches of His Grace” (1:7). No adequate explanation of divine forgiveness can be made apart from those beautiful and precious words. Only the view of the depth and degradation of our sin will cause us to appreciate in any degree the limitless ill-merited favor of God. The word “according” shows the measure of God’s grace in forgiveness. “Riches” suggests the inexhaustible springs of liberality. Have you ever tried to estimate how rich God is in grace? He has grace enough for every sinner and riches to spare. And to think He gives liberally to all in proportion to His riches!

That we might know the eternal purpose of God provided for us in His Son, “He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence” (1:8). God makes His purpose known and then gives His children the capacity to understand and appreciate it. The truths of God are deep truths, but “God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit” (I Cor. 2:10). The desire in the Father’s heart is that His Church should know the secret things of His divine plan. The Word of God is the revelation of His counsels, and all who search the Word may have an intelligent understanding of His wonderful plan. We, as the redeemed saints of God, “have the mind of Christ” and can foresee the ultimate destiny of the whole creation.

How does God abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence? The answer comes to us in the next verses: “Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in Him” (1:9-10). This is the manner in which He made His grace to abound toward us in all wisdom and intelligent understanding. He made known unto us the mystery.

A mystery is a truth once hidden but now revealed. A mystery is not mysterious in the present connotative meaning of the word but a secret now revealed by God. There are a number of mysteries in the New Testament, the true meaning of which God disclosed to Paul. In confidence God has much to tell His own concerning His plan for Israel, the Church, and the world. All of the purposes of God find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. This present dispensation began with the revelation of God in the virgin birth and virtuous life of His Son. The revelation reached its climax at Calvary. And He continued to reveal Himself in His bodily resurrection and ascension into heaven.

At this moment the authority of Jesus Christ is not fully acknowledged in the earth, but in the end of the age all things in heaven and in earth will find their headship in Christ. In Colossians, Christ is seen as “the Head of the body, the Church,” but when He comes again, by Him God will reconcile all things unto Himself, whether they be things in the earth or things in heaven. God will head up all things in Christ. Many military leaders have dreamed of world empires, but God has “highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).

The “times,” or seasons, suggest that God is developing His plan through a series of definite and successive stages, the fullness of which has not yet come. However, it is God’s intention in the final important season to send His Son to earth again to sum up all things in Him. This divine intention was at one time unknown, even to the prophets, but according to God’s good pleasure He has made it known to us now. Our Lord’s first coming was in the fullness of time. However, in that day He will not merely offer Himself but will establish His throne and rule with a rod of iron.

When speaking of the future glory of Christ, the apostle is reminded again of the believer’s position, for in Christ “we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (1:11). The real meaning of this verse is missed entirely if we hold to the King James Version. Let us see it in the American Standard Version--“In whom also we were made a heritage . . .” (1:11, A.S.V.). We just saw in verse 10 how that everything in heaven and earth will be unified in Christ. Now Paul adds that, in Christ, the believer is God’s chosen portion or private possession. The saints are predestinated to be His inheritance. Of Israel it was said: “Yet they are Thy people and Thine inheritance”; “For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance” (Deut. 9:29; 32:9). When Christ returns in glory to establish His kingdom, all history and creation will be combined in a glorious and harmonious consummation as His inheritance, but the apex of His inheritance will be those whom He has redeemed with His own blood along with regathered Israel. This is God’s eternal purpose and He works all things after the counsel of His own will. What majestic beauty and simplicity in the purpose of God! It is not merely that Christ shall receive the earth and all that is in it, but that we have been made His heritage.

Only as we are “in Christ” are we God’s inheritance, and the reason He made us His inheritance is “That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ” (1:12). Though now we are the objects of His love and mercy, eventually we shall be the subjects of His glory.

Speaking through the Prophet Malachi, God said: “And they shall be Mine . . . in that day when I make up My jewels” (Mal. 3:17). Here the word “jewels” means special treasure, and it is used first of David who, upon setting his affection on the house of the Lord, stored away his treasure of gold and silver for the building of the temple. Even so God is storing away His special treasure, building a holy temple, “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord” (Eph. 2:21). As God looks down upon this sinful earth He sees a company of despised followers of His Son, and He says: “They shall be Mine when I make up My special treasure.”

We are of greater worth to God than angels. We are His costly treasure! Someone has said: “When God found me, I was no better than a cobblestone--not worth picking up. But He took me into His laboratory of grace, and by the chemistry of atoning blood He processed me, and I came out as His jewel--a bit rough, I’ll admit, but after a few years of cutting, buffing, and polishing, He will present me at last before His throne absolutely flawless.” How wonderful it all is! Thus the second stanza of this wonderful hymn of praise concludes “to the praise of His [Christ’s] glory.”

We come now to the third and last stanza of Paul’s hymn of praise (1:13-14). In the first stanza (1:3-6), we saw the plan of the Father wherein we were chosen, predestinated, and adopted that we might be to the praise of His glory. In the second stanza (1:7-12), we saw the provision of the Son wherein we were redeemed and forgiven that we might be to the praise of His glory. Now we are to look at the last stanza (1:13-14), wherein we see the pledge of the Spirit unto the praise of His glory. The Father finished His plan. The Son finished the work which the Father gave Him to do. Now the Holy Spirit is in the world fulfilling His pledge.

Verse 13 contains three prominent words, each essential to the other. They are “heard,” “believed,” and “sealed.” Here we shall see the work of the Holy Spirit in the divine plan. All three Persons in the Godhead have had a pertinent part in man’s redemption.

What is the Spirit’s work? All men being spiritually dead in trespasses and sins, man needs new life. Since the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of life” (Rom. 8:2), He quickens us from spiritual death.

How does the Spirit accomplish this quickening? The instrument He uses is the Word of God. In Ephesians it is called “the Word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.” Elsewhere we are reminded that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Paul says: “Ye heard,” and “ye believed.” It is through the Word that men are born again, “For the Word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12, A.S.V.). Only when we hear the gospel are we born again by the power of the Spirit (John 3:5), “not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (I Pet. 1:23). The written Word of God is the living, active, sharp, penetrating, discerning sword of the Spirit by which men are brought face to face with God’s plan of salvation. The duty of the sword of the Spirit is to bring life, but all who refuse it are slain by it. We cannot adequately explain our salvation apart from the Spirit’s ministry through the Word.

Upon “hearing” and “believing” the Word, immediately “ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” (1:13). When we hear the gospel our part is to believe; it is God’s part to seal. We are not sealed by the Spirit but, rather, with the Spirit. Better still, the Spirit is the seal. It is “God who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts” (I Cor. 1:21-22).

A seal is a mark of authenticity or genuineness. “Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (II Cor. 3:3). True believers are the credentials of Christ, His letters of recommendation to a lost world. A letter is the written expression of the writer; hence the children of God are not those whose names are written in ink or engraved in stone, but those upon whose hearts the Holy Spirit has written the evidence of the power of God’s Word. The distinguishing mark between the false professor and the true Christian is the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, a seal is the mark of ownership. God knows us by His seal. Jesus said: “I am the good Shepherd, and know My sheep, and am known of Mine” (John 10:14). As livestock are distinguished by the owner’s brand, even so God has His own special brand whereby we are marked out as His possession, and “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom. 8:9). The stamp of validity is God’s seal, the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is the sign that we are His people and members of the true Church of Jesus Christ.

Then, too, the seal is the mark of security, for the Spirit “is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (1:14). Here is the answer to the problem some men have regarding the preservation of the believer. Wherein does our security lie? The word “earnest” denotes a down payment, or a pledge that an agreement will be kept. Now God has offered us eternal life upon belief on His Son. But can we be certain that we shall enter into that life after we die? Yes, indeed! The earnest bound the bargain, and the deposit will not be returned until the remainder of our redemption, which is the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:23) is fully realized. The Holy Spirit is in the earth as God’s deposit, or guarantee, until Jesus Christ comes again to receive His own unto Himself. The indwelling Holy Spirit is our guarantee of a finished transaction and a safe delivery of spirit, soul, and body to heaven. Our future inheritance of glory is assured, for the sealing with the Spirit is designed to give us certainty that the future will bring a completed redemption, and that “unto the praise of His glory.”

2. Paul’s Prayer to God for What We Require (1:15-23)

The epistles of Paul are noted for their prayers offered to God in the interest of the saints. W. H. Griffith Thomas has said that there are few more precious subjects for meditation and imitation than the prayers and intercessions of the great apostle. The greatness of the man and his ministry can be attributed in a large part to his prayer life.

There are two prayers of Paul recorded in Ephesians. The first prayer is before us; the second is to be found in 3:14-19. If prayer for others is a test of one’s own spiritual life, then Paul ranks high among the godly leaders in the history of the Church. Most of our prayers are taken up with ourselves or with those nearest and dearest to us. Needs of others occupy a small place in our prayer life. Paul’s prayers are included by the Holy Spirit as a corporate part of the epistle.

First, consider the occasion of the prayer. It commences with the word “wherefore,” which literally means on account of this. In the preceding verses Paul has issued, by the Holy Spirit, some profound teaching on the work of the triune God in making plans for the completed redemption of all believers. Now, because of this, he desires that they should possess an experiential knowledge, having the doctrine transmitted into actual experience. He would have them enjoy the full scope of their inheritance in Christ.

Paul’s heart is filled with thanksgiving for the saints at Ephesus, for, says he: “I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints” (1:15). Two things about the Ephesian Christians were controversial pieces: (1) their faith in the Lord Jesus, and (2) their love to all the saints.

The object of their faith was the Lord Jesus Christ. They were not ashamed of Him, for obviously others were hearing of their faith. Paul says: “I heard.” Where people are soundly saved they will not hide their light under a bushel, but will proclaim the joys of salvation found in Christ. Then, too, where faith is genuine, love will be in evidence. One of the unmistakable signs of the new birth is one’s conduct toward “all the saints.” True Christian love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5). Where He is in control, there must be love to all the saints. Love is the fruit of faith in Jesus Christ, for “We know that we have passed from death into life, because we love the brethren” (I John 3:14). While true love embraces all men, it reaches out in a particular way to those who belong to our Lord Jesus Christ (see Galatians 6:10). Faith begets love.

Let us consider further the objectives of the prayer. Paul’s earnestness made his prayers intelligent and specific. He knew that general prayers could expect general answers, so why pray if there was nothing to pray about? But he did pray, and the Holy Spirit has preserved for us one of the most profound petitions in all of the apostle’s writings.

The prayer is addressed to “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of Glory” (1:17). This suggests to us that the Christian’s God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is the Father to whom glory belongs, for He is “the God of glory” (Acts 7:2). And to think that the Father to whom glory belongs, who is the “Father of mercies” (II Cor. 1:3), the “Father of [our] Spirits” (Heb. 12:9), and the “Father of lights” (Jas. 1:17), is our Father! O Christian, rejoice! How can a Christian ever think of calling any man his holy father, as Romanists do, when he has God as his Father? Our heavenly Father is the source of every blessing. To Him be all glory! The first request in the prayer is for “wisdom and revelation” (1:17). When Paul requests for the saints “the spirit of wisdom and revelation,” he is not praying for the gift of the Holy Spirit’s Presence. They have already received the Holy Spirit as the divine seal (1:13). Paul desires for them that heavenly wisdom and revelation which is imparted by the Holy Spirit.

“Revelation” is the important word here, for revelation is the key to all knowledge. The ministry and office work of the Holy Spirit is to reveal to the Christian the meaning of all truth, whether historical or prophetical (John 14:26; 16:12-15). The Christian has no excuse for ignorance, since the Holy Spirit was given to reveal even “the deep things of God” (I Cor. 2:10). Some men are wise in Hebrew and Greek grammar and the mechanics of Bible interpretation, but Paul is not praying for the tools of knowledge. He covets for them a wise and understanding spirit that none can impart but the Holy Spirit Himself.

Why do Christians not have a wise and understanding spirit in things pertaining to God’s Word? The answer lies, in part, in the last phrase of verse 17, namely, “in the knowledge of Him.” Christ is true wisdom and true knowledge. Three other translations of this verse make the deeper meaning clear:

That the God of our Lord Jesus the Messiah, the Father glory-clad, may, in bestowing the full knowledge of Himself, bestow on you the Spirit which is manifested in divine illumination and insight into the mysteries of God (Way).

For I always beseech the God of our Lord Jesus Christ--the Father most glorious--to give you the spirit of wisdom and penetration through an intimate knowledge of Him (Weymouth).

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may grant you the Spirit to give wisdom and revelation which come through a growing knowledge of Him (Williams).

Surely you have caught the force of Paul’s statement. Wisdom and revelation come to us only by intimate associations with our Lord. A growing knowledge of the Author of the Bible guarantees a wise and understanding spirit in discernment of His Word. Paul would have us seek to know God, for then we shall have a Spirit-given knowledge which is accurate and thorough (Phil. 1:9; Col. 1:9), not merely an intellectual knowledge. Human philosophy says: “Know thyself.” Our Lord said: “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou has sent” (John 17:3). Ordinary knowledge may be acquired; spiritual insight into the deep things of God is a gift (Jas. 1:5).

The prayer continues: “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened” (1:18). The American Standard Version reads: “the eyes of your heart,” not mind. The “heart” is the inner man, including the emotion and will; it is the whole self, man’s inward being. This marvelous faculty of spiritual sight is lacking in the unregenerated man. He is powerless to apprehend spiritual things. “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor. 2:14). Now the eyes of the believer’s heart must be continually taken up with his Lord in order that his knowledge of spiritual truth might increase.

Paul requests for the saints the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ that they might know three things:

(1) “The hope of His calling.” God has called us, but to what purpose? He has called us to perfection in the likeness of Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29; I John 3:1-2). He has called us to a completed righteousness and to the completed redemption of our bodies. He does not call a believer to hope for the forgiveness of his sins: they are gone. The hope of His calling is to see Him and be one with Him. One day our Lord will come again, and we shall all be changed to see Him as He is and to be like Him. Such a glorious hope inspires to holy living and to a hatred of all that is of this world. “Every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (I John 3:3). All Christians have the same hope. It is Christ’s coming to take His own to be with Himself.

(2) “The riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” Here Paul prays that we might have a full appreciation of our worth to God. Already we have noted that God made us His heritage that we should be to the praise of His glory (1:11-12). God has an inheritance. His inheritance is in His saints. The gold and the silver and all the universes are His. He has riches untold. But His riches are not in the universes that He possesses, nor in the substance of the earth that is His, but in the saints that He purchased at infinite cost, namely, the precious blood of His only begotten Son (I Pet. 1:19). Beloved Christian, think not of what you can get from God but, rather, think of what you mean to God. The Christian Church is precious to God. He purchased it and paid for it with the blood of His Son. Paul would have us appreciate our dignity. I cannot understand how this can be, but I know that God has an inheritance even in me.

(3) “And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe” (1:19). What an objective in prayer! That men might know the measure of God’s power. The Christian needs supernatural power, and God would have us see how great is His power to accomplish His purposes in us. How much spiritual strength is available for me in my daily life? How much divine energy is at my disposal? The power that God has made available to the believer is “according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come” (1:19-21). Here is the inexhaustible strength of God in taking His crucified Son who was dead and buried, and raising Him from among the dead to His present majestic position in heaven. What power! The same continuous current of His mighty power stands available to the faithful, to all who will believe.

Can you conceive this? The power which raised Christ from the grave, lifted Him to heaven, put all things under His feet and made Him the Head over all to the Church, is to us-ward who believe. How can we fail with Him as our Head and with such power at our disposal?

Now consider the last phrase. God “gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all” (1:22-23). Jesus Christ has been exalted to absolute authority over His Church, hence through His sovereign Person and exalted position the Church takes her orders. He is the exalted Head over all. The order of the Church must be His will and every activity must exalt Him, since it is in the capacity of Head over all that God gave Him to the Church. When the members of the Church recognize this, then there will be no lack, for the Church will receive its fullness from Him. As the recognized Head He imparts the needed strength to accomplish every task. When the visible body of Christ on earth recognizes the invisible Head in heaven, the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. Popes, cardinals, and bishops are merely men; and when any man sets himself up as the head of Christ’s Church, it is sacrilege of the basest sort. Beloved, let us take our position in subjection to our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may enjoy victory all along the way, for we cannot be complete without Him (Col. 2:9-10).

Related Topics: Christology, Ecclesiology (The Church)

The Five Warnings of Hebrews

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Today we are living in a period of time like the days of Noah when there is no fear of God before men’s eyes (Rom. 3:18). The unsaved know the judgment of God is upon those who do such things as they do today, yet they not only do them but they have pleasure in them that do them (Rom. 1:32). They are treasuring up for themselves wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgments of God (Rom. 2:5).

What is even worse than this, if such could be the case, is that the saved have no fear of God before their eyes. You do not love someone you do not respect. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Prov. 9:10; cf. 1:7). “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil” (Prov. 8:13). The early church had a correct godly fear of God, and this is the reason they went out and turned the world ‘right-side-up.’ Notice this in Acts:

Acts 2:42-43 And they were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. And everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles.

Acts 5:5, 11 And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 And the young men arose and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things.

Acts 9:31 So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace, being built up; and, going on in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it continued to increase. (cf. 19:17).

May God be pleased to use these pages to help stem the tide of fearlessness among believers today. “Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28-29). “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name” (Mal. 3:16).

So Great Salvation— Hebrews: Synthesis


I. Christ Alone Qualifies In His Person to Attempt Salvation, (1:1–4:13)

    The Son: (Eternal, 1:1-3) …Christ … Prophet

    A. Greater than the Prophets (1:1-3)

    B. Greater than the Angels (1:4–2:18)

    C. Greater than Moses (Ch. 3)

    D. Greater than Joshua (4:1-13)

II. Christ Alone Qualifies In His Work to Provide Salvation (4:14–10:18)

    The Savior: (Perfect, 7:24-28) … Jesus … Priest

    A. The High Priest (4:14–7:28) THE SERVICE: “After the order of Melchisedek”

    B. The Tabernacle (8:1–9:11) THE SANCTUARY: “Not made with hands”

    C. The Sacrifice (9:12–10:18) THE SACRIFICE: “Once for all”

III. Christ Alone Qualifies In His Position to Effect Salvation (10:19–13:25)

    The Shepherd (Great): (13:20) … The Lord … King

      Here is the believer’s walk, “by a new and living way” in relation to Christ’s position:

      A. Faith (10:19–11:40)

      B. Hope (Ch. 12)

      C. Love (Ch. 13)


Washington, D. C. is one of the few cities in the world that was completely designed before any streets were made or buildings erected. What once was a marshy wilderness now stands one of the most beautiful capitols in the world. Pierre Charles L’Enfant, an engineer in the Continental Army, being recommended by President George Washington for the task, designed the entire city. Capitol Hill was selected as the focal point, and broad avenues were laid out which radiate like spokes of a wheel from centers placed within the rectangular pattern of the streets.

For anyone visiting our nation’s capitol, the first point to visit should be the Washington Monument. From this vantage point of beautiful white marble, forty stories above the city in the tallest masonry structure in the world, may be seen a panoramic view of four of the most picturesque scenes upon which the human eye may gaze.

Looking east at the end of the mall on Capitol Hill stands the Capitol building with its magnificent dome glistening in the sun. At the right and left stand the House and Senate buildings covering a square city block. Behind the Capitol to the right is the massive Library of Congress, and at the left is the white structure of the Supreme Court of the United States. In the foreground may be seen the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Institute.

A diagonal street may be seen running from the Capitol building. As we move north we see that this street is the famous Pennsylvania Avenue which connects the Capitol with the White House. Here we view the President’s home and the Treasury Building to the right.

The western view gives us a picture of the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial. Beyond the Potomac River we view Arlington National Cemetery with its Tombs of the Unknown Soldiers and the Marine Memorial.

Looking south the Tidal Basin lined with cherry trees is seen with the Jefferson Memorial on the far side. And across the Potomac, the massive Pentagon building is visible. If time permitted many other important landmarks could be pointed out by our guide.

Now we are ready to descend the Washington Monument on to busy Constitution Avenue and see each building individually. Why? Because now we know the relation of one building to another; we have viewed the design of a planned city. We have seen what no amount of hours spent on the busy and crowded streets could have given us. We have seen the city—our Nation’s Capitol—and we draw back in amazement at what we have just viewed.

God’s Word is identical with this. Each book is a magnificent city designed by the greatest Architect. Avenues of truth run throughout in beautiful symmetry. Monuments are erected by the sterling character of its men. Beautiful scenes catch our vision every direction we look. We see on every hand the grandeur and glory of the Person of our God.

We may wander for days along its streets and through its buildings, and yet never see the relationships of one aspect of truth with another. Our need is first to rise far above the whole picturesque scene, as beautiful as any one spot may be, and receive a panoramic view of the entire landscape. We need to see the design that was in the mind of the Designer, the over-all plan and purpose of this city we are about to view and whose laws are to govern all our lives.

No book in Scripture was written without design: Each was written with specific purpose and aim in mind. This is especially true of the book of Hebrews which we are about to consider. There is a plan and purpose which can never be seen by traveling on its broad avenues or passing through its magnificent structures. It was written that one fact and one fact alone would be in the mind of the Hebrews as they finished reading this letter. This one fact is: Christ alone can qualify to provide perfect salvation. This message is a timeless message. It is just as pertinent today is it was the day this letter was inscribed on parchment and sent by a messenger on to its destination.

There are three areas in which Christ alone qualifies to provide a perfect salvation:

(1) He alone qualifies in His person to attempt salvation (1:1–4:13).

(2) He alone qualifies in His work to provide salvation (4:14–10:18).

(3) He alone qualifies in His position to effect salvation (10:19–13:25).

    I. Christ Alone Qualifies in His Person to Attempt Salvation (1:1–4:13)

Fundamental in the mind of the writer of Hebrews is that the person must qualify or else nothing that person does can possibly qualify.

For example, it is the Indianapolis Speedway Classic, and we are seated there on Memorial Day, moments before the five-hundred mile race is to begin. As we anxiously wait for the final flag to be waved to begin the race we undoubtedly realize the hours upon hours of preparation which have gone into making this moment possible. Long before any cars were built regulations were issued giving the specification to which the cars would have to conform. Then came the qualifying run to eliminate those cars not able to maintain a specific speed. Many have labored to be sure that both car and driver would qualify. Yet as we watch the cars going by this day at speeds of 170 mph we fail to see many cars, upon which thousands of dollars were spent, simply because they did not meet the qualifying standard set by the officials. These can never win because they cannot participate.

God says, “I am the qualifying official and whoever runs as the Savior of men must pass the qualifying standards which I have set up.”

The writer of Hebrews spans the whole realm of creation, and the entire span of time to see if there could be found someone who might qualify as the Savior of men. His verdict is that none but Deity Himself can possibly qualify for the standard set by Deity for the salvation of lost mankind. He identifies the only One who can qualify as the Son.

      A. The Son—far greater than the Prophets (1:1-3)

The prophets represented God to man, and spoke His message as it was revealed to them. But this One who was the Son, being from a far greater realm, had by this same degree a much greater message. The prophets spoke the message of God; the Son was the message of God.

      B. The Son—far greater than the angels (1:4–2:18)

The Son is “so much better than the angels” (1:4). This is proven by quoting seven different Old Testament passages in Chapter 1, and three more in Chapter 2.

In summary, the Son is greater in two ways:

(1) He is the Creator, they are creatures (chapter 1)

(2) He identified Himself completely with humanity (chapter 2).

Angels are always angels so they cannot do what Christ did for man. Angels serve man; but the Son became man in order to serve in a far greater capacity.

      C. The Son—far greater than the great deliverer, Moses (ch. 3)

Moses delivered the entire nation from bondage. Christ is even greater. He is the Architect (3:3). Moses was a servant in the house, but Christ is the Son (3:5-6). As the Son is superior to the servant of a house, just to this very proportion was the Messiah superior to Moses.

      D. The Son—far greater than General Joshua (ch. 4)

In Hebrews 4:8 the word “Jesus” is the Greek word for “Joshua” and so should be understood. Joshua led the nation into the land, but he could not give then rest. Since a rest was promised, there remained One who is greater than Joshua to come and bring them into a place of rest because He had “ceased from His own works.”

The exhortation is given to the Hebrews to “enter into that rest” (4:11). The throne of grace is the place of rest 44:16). The rest is provided because a greater than Joshua ceased from His own work as God did from His.

The illustration is that of God’s rest of creation. When He finished creation He pronounced everything “very good” and then He experienced a Sabbath rest. Then something happened. Sin came in, and there was no more rest for God. Only after the Lord had a redeemed people, redeemed through blood, did He institute the Sabbath rest for them. Yet there still was no rest for God. This is seen by our Lord saying: “My Father worketh hitherto and I work.” There had been no rest in the Godhead and could not be until there was a completed work. Only after Christ exclaimed: “It is finished” was there rest. Today Christ sits on high because the work is over. We can enter into His rest of a completed work. Have you done this?

    II. Christ Alone Qualifies in His Work to Provide Salvation (4:14–10:18)

Previously, the writer’s entire argument had been on the person of the Son; now he turns to His work. He realizes that the worth of the work is dependent upon the worth of the person. Consequently, he now turns from the Son aspects of the person of Christ, to the Savior aspects of the work of Christ.

In the Jewish economy three basic areas of work are involved in providing salvation for sinful man: the high priest, the tabernacle and the sacrifice. If you like them to begin in the same letter, they would be the service, the sanctuary and the sacrifice. These three areas are now taken up in this order.

      A. Christ—the Great High Priest (4:14–7:28)

Here Christ is contrasted to the best in the Jewish economy. Aaron, and the Aaronic priesthood. But three times it is said of the Son: “Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchezedek.”

Christ is not only a greater person than Aaron, but He had a superior priesthood. Because the Son’s priesthood was of a different order, He could be both King and Priest, which was never possible for Aaron. Moreover, He could abide a priest continually because He would not be hindered from continuing by death which affected the Aaronic priesthood. Because of this fact, the Son has an unchangeable priesthood.

The summary conclusion is given in Hebrews 7:25-28. The work of Christ as High Priest is superior to that in Judaism.

      B. Christ—the True Tabernacle (8:1–9:11)

There are four words that show the earthly tabernacle in Israel was only an object lesson of the real tabernacle:

  • Example and shadow of heavenly things,” (8:5).
  • Pattern of the true tabernacle (8:5).
  • “A figure for the time then present” (9:9).

The contrast is between the shadow and the real image that cast the shadow. The earthly tabernacle was then God’s illustration of the work of salvation which was to be accomplished through the body or tabernacle of the Lord Jesus Christ—the true tabernacle “not made with hands.”

This is the reason for God’s specific instruction to Moses in Hebrews 8:5. This true tabernacle is as superior to the earthly copy as (1) the image is to the shadow; (2) the Creator is to the creature, and (3) Infinite is to the finite. Christ, as the true tabernacle, is infinitely superior to that in Judaism.

The transition to the third aspect of the Lord’s work is given in Hebrews 9:11-12 where Christ is specifically stated as the High Priest, the tabernacle and the sacrifice.

      C. Christ—the One Sacrifice (9:12–10:18)

Here three words contrast the old sacrifices with the once-for-all sacrifice of the body of the Lord Jesus. (1) “Patterns” (9:23); (2) “Figures” (9:24); and (3) “A shadow of good things to come” (10:1). The outstanding point of contrast is given in Hebrews 10:11, 12 and 14 (Compare Heb. 10:4 with 10:10).

As the true tabernacle was infinitely better than the earthly pattern, so the sacrifice which is to be offered for its purification must be to the same proportion greater (Heb. 9:23, 24, 26b). This is why John the Baptist cried out: “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” This was new. This had never been done in the Old Testament. It was infinitely superior to that in Judaism.

Not only does Christ alone qualify in His person to attempt salvation, He alone qualifies in His work to provide salvation because:

  • He is High Priest “after the order of Melchizedek” and not after the order of Aaron.
  • He is the true Tabernacle “not made with hands” instead of only a pattern made by men.
  • He is the Sacrifice “once for all offered for sin.

Have you ever accepted Him as your sin-bearer and substitute? He died that you might not have to die. He tasted death for every man, Christ died for your sin, but you must personally receive him as your God-appointed Savior before His sacrifice can be credited to your account. He “willed” to be your Sacrifice; you must “will” Him to be your Savior.

    III. Christ Alone Qualifies in His Position to Effect Salvation (10:19–13:25)

Up to this point we have been dealing with doctrinal matters in which all you and I can do is sit on the sideline and watch how God provides perfect salvation through His Beloved Son. There was nothing we could do to enter in. Anything we would attempt to do would be only to mar the perfection which characterizes all that God does.

God’s law is fixed—each shall produce after its kind. He has produced a salvation which is entirely His product, and takes after His own nature. It is infinitely perfect. The only way He will allow any of us to enter in is to believe in what He has done. His entire plan for salvation is that “no flesh should glory in his presence.” Anything that we do to help provide this perfect salvation would be only to ruin it. With a perfect salvation provided we now enter into the practical division of the book—First is His person, then His work.

First we have Who He is.
Then we see what He did.
Now the emphasis is on what He can do for you.

First it is Christ’s life.
Then it is His death.
Now it is His new life and position at the Father’s right hand.

Now we are looking at Christ’s outworking of His salvation in our lives. The writer is pressing home one truth: God is taking away the old and establishing the new.

  • There is a new object for men’s faith—Christ.
  • There is a new will or covenant of which Christ is the Mediator.
  • There is also a new walk for the believer because of the person, work and position of Christ,

Now the believer-priest is to enter into the Holy of Holies, i.e., into the very presence of God, by a new and living way through the blood of Jesus (Heb, 10:19), Our new life and walk is to be governed by three new avenues of Christian experience: faith, hope and love.

      A. Faith ( 10:19–11:40)

“Without faith it is impossible to please him” (Heb. 11:6). Here is a great list of those in God’s Hall of Fame. God’s testimony of them (Heb. 11:13, 15, 39-40).

Now this better thing is given unto us and is ours for the appropriation: An entrance by faith into the very presence of God. There is nothing greater. Only one Israelite—the high priest—once a year on the day of atonement could enter in, yet we have the privilege of coming and abiding there as often as we wish and staying as long as we desire.

The only way we can grasp the value of this provision is to measure the price that was paid to obtain it. It was the greatest redemptive price ever made: the death of the Son. The rending of the Savior’s side made possible that “whosoever will” may enter in by faith into the very presence of God. The weakest Christian stands here as boldly as the strongest saint, simply because all stand clothed in the righteousness of the Son. Here is the Shekinah Glory by which we are changed into the same image from one glory to another. It is the place of victory.

      B. Hope (ch. 12)

We are to run anticipating the approval of the Judge. We are to know that God, even through chastisement, is dealing with us as sons, and our lives are to bear fruit unto righteousness because of this experience.

      C. Love (ch. 13)

“Let brotherly love continue” (Heb. 13:1). This is what is to cause all men to know that we are the Lord’s disciples. Love is to permeate and govern every area of our life and our walk with the Lord and with others.

    The Closing Benediction (Heb. 13:20-21)

No one else BUT the Son can possibly qualify to effect salvation. It takes a living Savior. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). He is all that we need.

  • He is the eternal Son.
  • He is the perfect Savior.
  • He is the great Shepherd of the sheep.

There is no need we have but what Jesus Christ is the answer.

My friend, God today has provided perfect salvation. This salvation is in His Son Who alone can qualify. He has accomplished our redemption and now sits at the right hand of the Majesty on High ever living to save all who will come unto God by Him.

Yet though there be a thousand who could qualify to pay the debt for sin, and though they die a thousand deaths to provide salvation, still you would not be saved apart from accepting that salvation provided.

God didn’t need quantities of saviors, nor quantities of sacrifices. He needed One perfect Person to offer one perfect sacrifice that would make perfect forever those who “will” to accept God’s provision for sin, “This man offered one sacrifice for sins for ever … for by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

Where once was a marshy wilderness stands one of the most beautiful capitols in the world. Where once there stood a creation ruined by the fall, blighted by sin and under the verdict of death, now has been raised a new creation created in the beauty of holiness and clothed with the perfect righteousness of the Son.

All who “will” may enter in, but there is only one way of approach. This is through the Son. What are you going to do with God’s perfect provision for sin? If you reject God’s way, there is no other way. If you accept God’s provision., you have perfect salvation for He is the Author of eternal salvation to all those who obey Him. And this is God’s will, that we “believe on the name of His Son, Jesus Christ.”

Warning #1:
The Danger of Drifting
(Hebrews 1:1–2:4)

Incorporated within the very framework and message of the book of Hebrews are five danger signals. These are like stop signs on the boulevard of backsliding. They are warning posters placed on the freeway of disobedience.

    1. Chapter 2 The danger of drifting.

    2. Chapters 3-4 The danger of not entering into rest.

    3. Chapters 5-6 The danger of not going on to maturity.

    4. Chapter 10 The danger of willful sin.

    5. Chapter 12 The danger of indifference to the point of denial.

There is a progression in these warnings. It starts with being careless about salvation and indifferent to spiritual things until finally one comes to be perfectly satisfied with being indifferent.

W. H. Griffith Thomas has stated for these five warnings: “Don’t drift, disbelieve, degenerate, despise, depart.” For our study we will follow the following order.

    1. Drifting (2:1-4)

    2. Doubtings (3:7–4:13)

    3. Deformity (5:11–6:20)

    4. Despising (10:26-31)

    5. Denying (12:15-29)

Each one of these danger signs is part of the truth of this Epistle. The author stops in each case to apply the truth he has already presented to the lives of his hearers. It is not enough to know. There must be a performance of what is known. Knowledge bears responsibility.

Basic to any understanding of these warnings is to first understand that the Hebrews to whom the writer is speaking in this Epistle are saved. The recipients of this letter were Hebrew believers who had trusted Jesus Christ for their salvation, but were in danger of going back to the Temple in Jerusalem and to the Temple worship in order to escape the persecution that was being brought upon then at this time by the unsaved Hebrews.

The theme of the Epistle is that God has spoken in His Son. We need to consider who this Son is, what He has done, and what the message is to us today. Before, God spoke at sundry times and in divers manners. Some of the ways God used to reveal Himself were:

(1) By His creative acts.

Psalm 19:1-4 For the choir director. A Psalm of David. The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. 2 Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words; Their voice is not heard. 4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their utterances to the end of the world.

Paul at Lystra said:

Acts 14:15-17 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you, and preach the gospel to you in order that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them. 16 “And in the generations gone by He permitted all the nations to go their own ways; 17 and yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”

Paul at Athens said:

Acts 17:24-30 24 “The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they should seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His offspring.’ 29 “Being then the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30 “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent,

Romans 1:20-22 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,

Here God tells us that heathens have a revelation of Himself. They were given up by God, not passively but actively, because they changed the truth they knew of God into a lie. They refused to acknowledge God and worship Him.

There was a limitation to the knowledge of God in creation. Man could know only God’s being and His power, but not His person. Thus God began to reveal Himself further.

(2) By the patriarchs (Noah, Job, Abraham).

(3) By the angels (to Abraham and Moses).

(4) By the prophets (who gave us Old Testament revelation).

Still the various methods of revelation were inadequate to reveal God as a person. In order to do this adequately and fully, it would take a person who was himself God as well as man. Such a person was Jesus Christ. The Father sent the Son in order to reveal the Father.

John 1:18 No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.

John 14:8-10 8 Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.

All that we know of the person of God is found alone in the Lord Jesus Christ. He came to reveal the Father.

Consider Who the Son is (1:1-3)

1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; (Hebrews 1:1-3)

(1) Heir of All. “Whom he hath appointed heir of all things.” He is the focal point of all the universe. Colossians 1:16 tells us: “All things were created … f or him.”

(2) Creator of the Ages. “… by whom also he made the worlds” i.e., “the ages.” He is the beginning point of all the universe. He brought time into being and all things connected with time. Time is His creation and is subject to Him.

(3) Co-essence of Deity. “… who being the brightness of his glory.” The word “brightness” signifies to “flash forth” and thus “to radiate.” The Son is the outshining of Deity to a world in darkness. He is the true Shekinah glory of God.

(4) True Personality of Deity. “… and the express image of his person.” He is the exact reproduction of His essence. All that is in the Father is in the Son. He stands separate from the created universe, and a distinct person of the Godhead.

(5) Sustainer and Governor of the Universe. “… and upholding all things by the word of his power.” He is active today within the universe in order to have all creation accomplish His purpose and program. He is master of ceremonies for all that occurs.

(6) Redeemer of men. “… when he had by himself purged our sins.” This was not done by speaking nor by being, but by dying. He provides complete and perfect redemption for the universe. He alone provided—no one else helped or contributed to it.

(7) Sovereign of Men. “… sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” His work is finished. He is seated above the universe as its sovereign and judge. It is His right to reign and He shall some day put down all opposing rule and authority. His present position reveals His absolute authority. This is the One who is the theme of our study: “Consider Him” (Heb. 12:3).

    I. The Superiority of the Person of the Son (1:4–4:13)
      A. Superior to the Angels (1:4–2:18)

(1) In His Deity (1:4-14). As Son of God.

4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. 5 For to which of the angels did He ever say, "Thou art My Son, Today I have begotten Thee"? And again, "I will be a Father to Him And He shall be a Son to Me"? 6 And when He again brings the first-born into the world, He says, " And let all the angels of God worship Him." 7 And of the angels He says, "Who makes His angels winds, And His ministers a flame of fire." 8 But of the Son He says, "Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, And the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom. 9 "Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee With the oil of gladness above Thy companions." 10 And, "Thou, Lord, in the beginning didst lay the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the works of Thy hands; 11 They will perish, but Thou remainest; And they all will become old as a garment, 12 And as a mantle Thou wilt roll them up; As a garment they will also be changed. But Thou art the same, And Thy years will not come to an end." 13 But to which of the angels has He ever said, "Sit at My right hand, Until I make Thine enemies A footstool for Thy feet "? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:4-14)

By seven quotations, the Son is shown to be superior to the angels who are referred to in the Old Testament as sons of God.

  • He is greater in name (1:4-5). Angels are called sons, but never SON.
  • He is greater in authority (1:13-14). He is the Sovereign; they are servants.

Since the Son is superior to angels, His revelation is superior to their revelation. This is important and is the basis of the first warning given in 2:1-4. It is the application of the truth of His person. Notice the connection, marking, or underlining the key words: “God … hath … spoken … by his Son … Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard … for if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation …” (Heb. 1:1-2; 2:1-3) from this One who is so much greater than the angels.

There is a double danger involved. The first is physical and represents judgment in time; the second is spiritual—the hearing of these great truths of the gospel and doing nothing about them. It is a danger that is for both saved and unsaved. The revelation of angels to Lot concerning the destruction of Sodom was true, but the same revelation which saved Lot destroyed Lot’s wife because of unbelief. Now look at Hebrews 2.

1 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard … (Hebrews 2:1-3).

“On account of this” (2:1) That is the greater person who has come to give revelation to us in these last days.

“We must.” It is a logical necessity.

“Give heed beyond measure.” This is the kind of heed needed by all—myself, you, everyone who has ears to hear. Thus this exhortation and warning is for all.

“To the things that were heard, lest we might drift away (from them).” The truth is represented as being anchored. It will never change because it was given by the changeless Person who changes not. Since the truth will not change, the whole danger is on our side that we change through a careless attitude of indifference, and we drift away from it by the force of an opposing current operative in the world.

The point is this: The greater the revealer, the greater the responsibility to that revealed, and the greater the penalty for not giving heed. Revelation through the Son carries with it, by the very intrinsic nature of the revelation, a far more solemn obligation to its recipients than Old Testament revelation.

2:2 - “For if (as was true) the word that was spoken through angels was secure” (2:2). It never was changed, or failed, or slipped from being grounded in fact. How much could be said on this one point alone from the giving of the Law down to the father of John the Baptist, Zacharias to whom Gabriel said: “And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season (Luke 1:20). It was in every case exactly fulfilled as revealed of which the revelation by the angel Gabriel to Daniel in Daniel 9 is another example.

The major revelation in the writer’s mind here in Hebrews however is that of the Law—the old covenant—which was given by angels (Duet. 33:2; Acts 7:53).

“And every transgression and disobedience.” “Transgression” refers to a positive offense: someone doing what they were not supposed to do under the law. “Disobedience” refers to a negative offense: someone failing to do what they were supposed to do.

“Received a righteous recompense.” A recompense is a payment of wages. The law gave man exactly what he deserved. It was a system of justice. This revelation of angels in the Old Testament, carried with it its own intrinsic authority. It did not have authority because man sanctioned it, but by its very nature. No one could pass judgment upon it, and yet it did pass judgment upon all.

2:3 - Now the question is given: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation” (2:3)? The neglect was actually then taking place. They had the gospel and in the case of the Hebrew Christians, many of then were no longer meeting with the believers because of the persecution they were suffering, and some were even ready to go back to the Temple and its worship. It was a matter of complete indifference. It was the attitude of Lot’ s wife on a massive scale.

Remember, you cannot neglect something you do not have. The only way you can neglect your child is to have a child. To neglect salvation in the case of the believer is to have it and be completely indifferent concerning church attendance and fellowship with other believers, personal reading and study of the Word and prayer, and so forth. It is that attitude: “I’m saved, so I don’t have to worry. I’m all right.” The truth is just the opposite. You are all wrong. This so great salvation is not a mere ticket to heaven in which you can live just anyway down here on earth.

The writer of Hebrews will point out that it is a life where “the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back” from going on and living this kind of a life to which he has been called in salvation “my soul shall have no pleasure in him” (Heb. 10:38). God’s wrath is against the unbeliever, but His displeasure is against His sinning child and He personally will discipline and discipline severely. This is why the writer says: “The Lord shall judge his people.” He is speaking about judgment of believers who are His people but who are indifferent to the revelation given. And he adds: “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:30-31). This is addressed only to believers.

There is not one of us this day that can escape this warning. It includes me, and it includes you. It includes those who say they are believers and are not here this morning nor are they anywhere even though they are not now sick nor are they in a casket. But they are going to be sick, and if they do not give heed to this sickness, they will be dead.

The question is asked, “How shall we escape?” But the question is not answered, neither in the book of Hebrews nor in all of Scripture. Here is a question no demon in hell, nor even Satan with all of his knowledge, can answer. There is no prophet or wise man; there is no one among us today nor has ever been among us who can answer it. Even the Son Himself or the Holy Spirit or the Father cannot answer it. It is unanswerable, and it is this that gives the solemnity to the warning.

The superiority of this new revelation is threefold:

(1) In its original announcement (2:3b). “… which at the first began to be spoken by (through) the Lord.” This was from the Lord Himself, not from angels. It was from One far superior to the angels.

(2) In its convincing proclamation (2:3c). “… and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.” The apostles give authentic testimony of what was truth.

(3) In its divine attestation (2:4). “… God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” Here was the divine confirmation given to the message of the apostles to confirm the truth of their proclamation.

Now let me ask you who have heard the gospel. You know exactly what it is.

  • Christ has died for your sins.
  • He was buried.
  • He rose again the third day just as He said He would.
  • And He has been seen. He is alive today effecting salvation for all who will come unto God by Him.

You know this intellectually, and even perhaps emotionally you have been stirred by it, but you have neglected to respond to it personally yourself. You are not saved because you know the gospel; you are not saved because you even have or have had at some time an emotional response to the Gospel. You are only saved when you act upon what you know because you believe it is true.

As an act of your will you “call upon the name of the Lord” because you know He can save you. As an act of your will you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus believing in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead. You are willing to come out and confess Him openly regardless of what it means, even if it means the firing squad, or death at the stake by burning.

You can put it off; you can neglect the facts and the truth, spurning the invitation, but let me ask you one question which I dare you to think about: “How shall you escape?” You can’t answer it, can you? In fact, you do not even want to think about it. You want to dismiss it as far as possible from your mind. But you can’t do it.

Oh, how wonderful it is to be able to announce that the invitation is still open. Today is still “‘the day of salvation.” It is still “the accepted time” when you can be saved. There may never be a tomorrow for you. There may never be a tomorrow for this age of grace whereby you can be saved without dying for your faith in Christ or enduring unto the end of the Tribulation period in order to be saved.

Come while it is still called “today” in Scripture. The time will come when the ark of God’s grace will be closed and judgment is for all who have spurned God’s grace,.

“How shall you—put your name there—escape if you neglect so great salvation?”

Warning #2:
The Danger of Doubting
(Hebrews 3-4)

The first danger was the danger of drifting. This is just going along with the crowd and with the currents and pressures of this world’s system which will move you away from the truth. It is possible to wake up some day and find that you are not with God’s people nor with the truth at all. You have drifted from the truth because of an indifference to it. While you came to the truth, it never became something to which you anchored yourself. The truth will never change, but we can change, and this is the danger. It is possible to come to Calvary and be redeemed by the precious blood of Christ and then drift away from this position because of indifference to the things of the Lord. It is the first danger in the Christian life.

Having stated this danger, the writer of Hebrews resumes the truth that Jesus Christ is greater than the angels. Having previously shown the Son to be superior to angels in His Deity as the Son of God (1:4-14), he now shows that He is superior to angels in His humanity as the Son of man (2:5-18). God’s purpose for man is given in 2:5-8. It is to subject the world to man, not angels. This is why the Garden of Eden was given to man to rule. This was God’s will.

Proof that this is still God’s will and program and that this will yet be accomplished, is Jesus’ place today (2:9). “Jesus” is the Lord’s human name. He is the Lord’s “man” to rule the world to come, i.e., the millennium. Provision was made by Christ in His humanity that this might be accomplished (2:10-18). He has defeated Satan already at the cross.

Note the outline:

    A. Superiority of the Son to Angels (1:4-2:18).

      1. In His Deity as the Son of God (1:4-14).

      2. In His Humanity as the Son of man (2:5-18).

    B. Superiority of the Son to Moses (3:1-6).

1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession. 2 He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. 3 For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. 5 Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; 6 but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end (Hebrews 3:1-6).

This is the new truth, and from it the writer will draw a new warning. Christ is shown to be superior to Moses in at least four ways.

  • Christ was the builder or creator of the House of Israel; Moses was a part of the house or a creature (3:3).
  • Christ was over it (3:6); Moses was in it (3:5).
  • Christ was as a Son (3:6); Moses was as a servant (3:6).
  • Christ was the revealer; Moses testified to a revelation (3:5b).

Not only had One spoken who was greater than angels, but One had spoken who was greater than Moses. Just as God spoke through angels and every word was true; so God spoke through Moses and every word was true. This brings us to the second danger, and the writer of Hebrews stops to give the warning to the Hebrew Christians that they do not fail as their fathers failed.

    1. Illustration (3:7-19)

7 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, "Today if you hear His voice, 8 Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, As in the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 Where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, And saw My works for forty years. 10 "Therefore I was angry with this generation, And said, 'They always go astray in their heart; And they did not know My ways'; 11 As I swore in My wrath, 'They shall not enter My rest.'" 12 Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end; 15 while it is said, "Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me." 16 For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did He swear that they should not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 And so we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief (Hebrews 3:7-19).

Israel was redeemed out of Egypt from bondage and slavery. They were redeemed by the blood of the Passover lamb, and by the power of God. God brought them out; they did not liberate themselves. This redemption was His work, and He received the glory. It was glorious that Israel was redeemed out of Egypt; the tragedy is that they perished in the wilderness.

      a. Explanation: How Israel failed (3:7-11).

Verses 1-6 give the faithfulness of Moses and the Messiah. Now we are shown the unfaithfulness of the children of Israel at the time of Moses, and the danger of unfaithfulness for the church at this present time.

The provocation (3:8) was the rebellion at Meribah given in Numbers 20:13. It was at the end of the wilderness experience. The temptation (3:8) was the rebellion at Massah recorded in Exodus 17:7, and was their experience at the beginning. From the beginning to the end, Israel provoked the Lord.

The result was not entering into rest (Heb. 3:10-11). They never entered into the promised land. Now we must realize that the promised land was never a picture of heaven. It was a picture of rest, and this generation that was saved out of Egypt by God’s grace and power never entered into this life of rest.

The point is this: A redeemed people may lose blessings which depend on continuing faith to enjoy. It is not enough to be saved by faith. “The just shall live by faith.” If God’s people cease to live by faith, they cease to live a life of blessing in time.

Being “saved” gives us rest of conscience, and we have peace with God. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). But then we can go on and enter into the rest of heart and have the peace from God.

“In nothing be anxious, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts, and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6).

The difference is the difference in rest between Matthew 11:28 and 29: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”

The first is positional; the second is experiential.

      b. Application (3:12-15)

The experience of Israel was not written down for them, for their mistakes being written down never helped then one bit. It is written for us. We are to take heed lest this same thing be in us in departing from the living God. “Departing” signifies a standing off from a former belief. Formerly it was what God said through Moses. Now it is what God says through the Son: we come to Him and we are saved by Him, but then we can “depart” from Him in time.

Verse 13 tells us what we are to do when we discover this in the assembly. We are not to condemn nor condone. We are to exhort one another by love and good works (cf. Heb. 10:24).

The word “hardened” means callused. It comes through the result of repeated irritations. There is callus for the hands and feet, but there is also a callus for the heart. We are never the same when we fail to respond to the Spirit’s wooing. Failing to respond always produces hardening. This is a terrible thing. It is the end product of an evil heart (cf. 3:12). The end result is no longer any sensitivity to the wooing of the Spirit.

      c. Interpretation (3:16-19)

Here is the route sin takes. The very people God rescued, provoked Him. There are three questions in verses 16, 17, 18, and these give us the three stages of their sinful attitude.

Unbelief —————> Hardness ——————> Judgment

An attitude of unbelief issued into a manifestation of complaining and this issued into divine discipline upon then from God. The road is always the same. It begins with an attitude, manifests itself in action and culminates in God having to judge.

Then the danger is that we will also defect from the life of faith. Basically we are no different from Israel. The same thing that happened to her can happen to us. First, the children of Israel who were redeemed at Sinai drifted from the truth and made a golden calf and 3,000 died. Then 38 wasted years were experienced in the wilderness while one generation, who accepted His salvation, perished in the wilderness because they refused to continue a life of faith and enter into the promised land. There were 603,550 men of war. Of these 603,548 died in the wilderness.

This meant that every day spent in the wilderness saw nearly 44 military funerals besides all of the civilians who died. These graves are a warning to Christians. It can happen to us too. It can happen here.

    2. The Encouragement (4:1-10)

1 Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, "As I swore in My wrath, They shall not enter My rest," although His works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For He has thus said somewhere concerning the seventh day, "And God rested on the seventh day from all His works"; 5 and again in this passage, "They shall not enter My rest." 6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 He again fixes a certain day, "Today," saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, "Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts." 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. 9 There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His (Hebrews 4:1-10).

The promise of entering into rest was “left behind to another generation” (4:1). This entering into rest was not the experience of crossing the Red Sea, which experience was salvation by blood and power. This promise was that of crossing the Jordan River. The danger was to perish in the wilderness, rather than that we would not leave Egypt. It was a danger only for those who were saved.

It was 38 years after Israel was redeemed that Moses pleads with the new generation. The record of that plea is the book of Deuteronomy.

It is now 38 years after Pentecost for the church. It is a second generation of believers. They are facing a momentous decision. The Lord Himself is pleading with them not to fail. The record of that pleading is the book of Hebrews.

There was the word of the report given to the nation in the Old Testament by twelve men. The same situation exists today. What are we going to do with the Word of the report (verse 2)?

4:3 The rest of creation is a quality of life enjoyed by God.

4:8 The rest Joshua gave them was only the type. The antitype or fulfillment still remains.

4:9 That life rest: (1) Is provided by God. (2) Is available today. (3) May be entered into by faith.

    3. The Exhortation (4:11-13)

11 Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall through following the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do (Hebrews 4:11-13).

It is not enough to merely know these things. There must be positive action. Disobedience and unbelief will rob us of rest (4:11). God gives us something to search out our hearts. (1) The Word of God (4:12-13). A living, active, sharp, critic. It can cut that callus off where nothing else will. (2) God Himself (4:13; cf. Job 34:21 “For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings.”

For all of us who are saved, there is a Jordan River for us to cross. it is an issue between us and the Lord. Will we do His will completely by faith, or will we not? We do one of two things when we come to this point in our lives: we rebel or we surrender. What will it be for you?

“Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Heb. 4:11).

That fall was physical death.

Warning #3:
The Danger of Deformity
(Hebrews 4:14-6:20)

The writer of Hebrews is concerned about the Christians of his day. He is gravely concerned because of the actions they are committing and the consequences to them for these actions. If they continue on their present course these indifferent Christians will die.

(1) The first danger is the danger of drifting away from the truth spoken by the Son. Those in the nation of Israel that were redeemed by the blood of the Passover lamb and redeemed by the power of God, when they drifted away from the law given by angels, died. Three thousand died at the golden calf incident.

How much greater is the Word spoken to us, and the responsibility to live in light of its truth. We who are believers cannot be indifferent to its message and prosper.

(2) The second danger is the danger of not entering into His rest because of unbelief. It is not enough to be saved by faith. The believer must continue to live by faith. If he lives in unbelief he will receive, not blessings, but discipline from the Lord.

A whole generation perished in the wilderness because of this failure. They were saved out of Egypt and from bondage by the power and to the glory of God, but they perished in the wilderness.

There is more to the Christian life than just being saved. There is a rest for the people of God. There is a crossing of the Jordan River as well as a crossing of the Red Sea. Many believers today die in the wilderness never having entered in by faith into the blessings God has for then. The graves in the wilderness stand as a warning to us that we do not fall after the same manner of unbelief caused by a bitterness against God for His dealings with us.

The exhortation is to every believer to let the word of God do its work in our lives and not to he hardened or callused to its operation. With this the first section of the book of Hebrews is concluded, and leaving the person of the Son, the writer speaks about the work of the Son for us, seeing He is who He is.


II. The Superiority of the Word of the Son (4:14-10:16)

    A. As the Great High Priest (4:14-7:28)

    B. As the True Tabernacle (8:1-9:11)

    C. As the Perfect Sacrifice (9:12-10:18)

Under 4:14-7:28 we have:

      1. Introduction: Our Great High Priest (4:14-16)

        a. Where He is—His Position—“passed into the heavens.”

        b. Who He is—His Person—“Jesus, the Son of God.”

        c. What He is—His Character—“without sin.”

        d. What He does—His Work—“‘touched with the feeling of our infirmities”
        He gives mercy and grace to believer-priests.

      2. The Son is a True Priest (5:1-10)

        a. The nature of a priest (5:1-4)

          (1) He must be a man (5:1-2)

          (2) He must offer sacrifices (5:3)

          (3) He must be God-called (5:4)

        b. The Son fulfills these (5:5-10)

Because the Son fulfills these, no other mediator is needed. No other priest officiates. We have one high priest and only one. It is not an earthly man serving in an earthly tabernacle; it is the eternal, perfect Son serving in heaven.

The Third Warning Involves: The Danger of Not Going on to Maturity

Much more is to be said on this subject of the Son being an high priest after the order of Melchizedek and not after the order of Aaron, but the writer stops because of their immaturity. The trouble is with his hearers, not with his subject. They are unable to take this truth in, and there was a reason for this condition.

Before we look into this warning, we need to realize that 5:11–6:20 is one unit of thought. It is one complete paragraph. The chapter break is unfortunate at this place because any interpretation of Hebrews 6 must begin at 5:11.

Let us briefly trace the argument.

    1. The Spiritual Problem (5:11-14)

11 Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil (Hebrews 5:11-14).

      a. Their Present State: Deformity Due to Immaturity (5:11-13)
      b. The Ideal State: Normality Due to Maturity (5:14)

5:11 - The problem in his hearers is that they have “become” dull of hearing. They didn’t used to be that way.

5:12 - They had been believers for a long period of time, and when for the time that they had been saved, should have been teaching at the Jerusalem Bible Institute, they still needed the teaching of the beginner course.

5:13 - This explains why they were still in babyhood. They had failed to use the knowledge they had in practical Christian living. The great principle of the Christian life is ‘use or lose.’ These people knew that Christ was the fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrifices and that the temple sacrifices are all fulfilled in His once-for-all sacrifice; yet they cannot understand why it would be wrong for then to go back to the Temple and to the sacrifices. Their problem is not a matter of knowledge, but it is a matter of the use or exercise of that knowledge in life situations to discern right and wrong.

5:14 - The mature ones are able to do more than know facts. They can relate doctrine to experience. Thus maturity in the Christian life is not knowledge as such, but the ability to use that knowledge to solve situations and problems in relation to daily living.

    2. The Spiritual Truth (6:1-8)

1 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of instruction about washings, and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And this we shall do, if God permits. 4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame. 7 For ground that drinks the rain which often falls upon it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8 but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned (Hebrews 6:1-8).

      a. The Need to Go On (6:1-3)

Notice that this follows in light of what was said in 5:11-14. The chapter begins with “therefore.” Now whenever you see a “wherefore” or “therefore” stop and see what it is there for. It follows something else. In light of certain facts something else is true or some action is to be done. Here it is action to he done.

6:1 - You immature believers need to leave the ABCs of doctrine and go on unto maturity. There is nothing wrong with the ABCs for the early school child, but there is something very wrong if the high schooler still has to go over them because he has not yet learned how to use the dictionary. “Perfection” is the word for maturity. There is nothing wrong with babyhood for babies, but there is something wrong if you continue there year after year requiring others to feed you.

6:1-2 - There are six basic ABCs that they were to leave. There is nothing wrong with these foundational things, for these were things that figured prominently in the first teachings of the apostles after the day of Pentecost. The foundation is fine, but you don’t just continue to build the foundation—you go on.

6:3 - “And this going on to maturity we will do if God wills it.” This is very important. You cannot compel maturity. The Father wants the child to mature; and so this third class condition shows that the fault is with us, not God, if we do not go on to maturity. However, we do not know how much time we have left.

      b. The Impossibility of Going Back (6:4-6)

Now we come to the passage that is without exception the most misunderstood passage in Scripture.

The issue to settle first and foremost is the question are the people the writer is addressing saved or not saved? They are either one or the other. There is no third category. These people are believers and are saved for the following reasons:

(1) Because of the message of the whole book of Hebrews. The whole book is addressed to Hebrew Christians. Note the exhortations,

  • “Let us fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into that rest…” (4:1)
  • “Let us labour to enter into that rest (4:11)
  • “Let us hold fast our profession (4:14)
  • “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace (4:16).

(2) Because of the immediate context in Hebrews 5:11–6:3.

  • They are babes, and therefore they had life (5:13).
  • They did not need knowledge, but needed to use the knowledge they already had (5:13).
  • Their lapse into dullness was because of disuse (5:14).
  • They were saved else they could not have been expected to be teachers (5:13).
  • They are exhorted to go on unto “perfection”(6:1). This does not mean to come to salvation, but to come to maturity in Christ. The writer includes himself along with them in needing to go on (6:1 “us” 6:3 “we”).
  • Lastly, they already knew and accepted the basic doctrines

(3) Because of the context following in Hebrews 6:9-12.

  • They are addressed as “beloved” (6:9).
  • The writer is persuaded of the things that accompany salvation (6:9). You cannot be persuaded of fruit if you do not possess the tree and the life in it.
  • They had already produced such fruit (6:10).
  • They are exhorted to be imitators (6:12) which is never for the unsaved.

(3) Because of the Hebrews 6:4-6 passage itself. There are five spiritual privileges listed here. Let us look at them carefully. Whenever Scripture uses important terms, the very same book in which they are used will define their meaning and show their significance. This is true here with these statements.

  • “Those who were once enlightened.” Notice Hebrews 10:32, “But call to remembrance the former days in which, after ye were illuminated (enlightened), ye endured a great fight of afflictions.” This word refers to the moment when the light of the gospel was apprehended by us for the first time (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4, 6; Eph. 3:9; 2 Tim. 1:10). Moreover, the word “once’ when used in Hebrews marks something that is never repeated (cf. 9:7,26; 10:2;12:26).
  • “… and have tasted of the heavenly gift.” Notice Hebrews 2:9, “But we see Jesus … that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” Tasting in the Greek signifies holding something in common with someone else. It does not signify, as in our culture, tasting it and then refusing to partake of it. Christ partook of death for us completely so that we might partake of the gift of eternal life. God’s gifts and calling are without repentance so that we have eternal life as our possession. We hold this in common with Jesus Christ. His life became our life because He died our death for us.
  • “… and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost.” The word “partakers” is used in 2:14; 3:1 and 14. It signifies in these verses not just participation but rather the personal character that has been gained because of vital relationship. The personal character of the human race was flesh and blood. To be partakers of the Holy Spirit is to have the personal character of the person governed by Him (i.e. to be regenerated).
  • “… and have tasted of the good word of God.” This again goes back to the word “taste” and in this case they have experienced a special utterance in which they realized that it was from God.
  • “… and the powers of the world to come.” This was the powers of the millennial age. They had not partaken of the age, but of the powers of the age, and they experienced this rebirth in their own lives.

Now the parallel uses and references show that these five things are stated about believers.

a. Only the believer is once enlightened.

b. Only the believer has the gift of eternal life.

c. Only the believer has the Holy Spirit.

d. Only the believer partakes of the New Testament revelation and so governs his life accordingly.

e. Only the believer has experienced the power of the now birth.

Moreover, every one of these statements is an aorist tense signifying that these things are never repeated acts of God’s working. This too shows the writer is speaking to believers in which God Himself has performed operations which will never be repeated. If they had not been saved then they could have experienced these things; but since they were saved these acts could never be repeated.

Furthermore, just what more could someone say about believers than what is stated here? There isn’t anything more that could be said.

Having established without any question that the writer is addressing believers, the question still remains what is he saying to them? Let us consider what this passage cannot teach. It cannot teach that you can be saved, lost, and saved over again. The passage says such is an impossibility. Anyone who teaches such a thing is not only out in left field, he is out of the ball park.

This passage cannot teach that you can come up to a point of enlightenment, etc., and yet not be saved, and reject this enlightenment and experience and never be able to be saved again. This makes an unpardonable sin which Scripture knows nothing about.

What this Passage does teach (and it is just so simple)—something is impossible. It is impossible for those who are saved to fall away and then be saved all over again and so remove all the wasted years of failure and babyhood since this would require Christ to die again and put him to open shame because His first death was not sufficient. Since all of this is impossible, and we cannot remove the record of wasted years as a believer, there is only one thing for us to do—let us go on to maturity.

The record of my past stands. I cannot change it. Therefore I must be concerned about today and tomorrow for I cannot do anything about yesterday.

How can we know this is what the writer is speaking about?

(1) Verse 4 begins with “for” and gives an explanation of why we must go on.

(2) This fits the context. The context before is speaking about babyhood and wasted years. The only thing they can do is go on. The context following gives an illustration of wasted years of the land bringing forth thorns and briers (6:7-8). We cannot go back and do anything about these crops. The only thing that can be done is go on and bring forth a good crop this year.

(3) The word used here for “repentance” metanoias and signifies “repentance” to salvation. This is always in the New Testament used of initial repentance to salvation. ( metamellomai is “repentance” which is restoration to fellowship in the New Testament).

(4) The use of the word “again” is significant. It is impossible to renew a saved person “again to initial repentance” unto salvation, simply because he is already saved. The “again” shows a prior experience. In this case a prior experience of salvation.

To paraphrase this we could say: “leaving babyhood, let us go on to maturity for it is impossible by means of a falling away to renew—that is make the whole record new—by means of an initial repentance to salvation seeing this would necessitate Christ dying again and make His first death of no avail, and therefore a mockery to those looking on.”

For this to happen godwardly, it would call for another crucifixion of Christ. Manwardly—to those who watch—they would say that His salvation was not worthwhile as the first crucifixion was not sufficient, and how could we know that even a second crucifixion would be sufficient also?

      c. The Illustration of the Principle (6:7-8)

The land is not burned, but the fruit of the land is if it is thorns and briers. So all will be brought out at the judgment seat of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 3:11-15). It is not the believer who is burned, but his works that are rejected.

We cannot erase the record of last years thorns. Therefore let us go on and by the grace of God this year produce a good crop that will glorify the Lord.

    3. The Spiritual Action (6:9-20)

9 But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. 10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

13 For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, "I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply you." 15 And thus, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. 16 For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. 17 In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18 in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek (Hebrews 6:9-20).

  • Your part: things that accompany salvation (6:9-12)
  • God’s part: immutable, steadfast promises (6:13-20)

The exhortation is to us: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14).

The prospects are as bright as the promises of God. Not one word has ever failed. Therefore, let us go on…

Warning #4:
The Danger of Despising
(Hebrews 10:26-31)

26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge His people." 31 It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:26-31).

Each warning given in Hebrews is progressively worse. As we’ve seen there is the danger of drifting away from the truth (2:1-4); the danger of not entering into His rest (ch. 3-4); and the danger of not going on to maturity (ch. 5-6).

All of these dangers are only for the child of God, not for the child of the world. The danger of the unsaved is not to be saved and thus go to the lake of fire. The writer of Hebrews is not writing to his people, Israel, who are unbelievers. Matthew has done that. He is writing to those who are believers, who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for their sins. They made a good confession and, even in the midst of suffering, were faithful to the Lord. But persecution has continued and intensified. They had suffered the loss of all their material wealth.

What was their problem? They needed to patiently endure. They needed to hold fast and not give up thinking that it is not worthwhile. One of the key words of the book in Hebrews, therefore, is “patience” or “patient endurance.”

So the author, after reprimanding his hearers for not being teachers of the Word even though they had been saved long enough to be teaching, and still needing to be taught the milk, urges them along with himself to “go on to maturity.” The reason “for” doing this is because it is impossible for “anyone” who is saved if they should defect from the faith to renew them again to an initial repentance. No one can be saved but once. No one can have his past forgiven but once. After coming to Christ, everything we do will come before the judgment seat of Christ and it will be rewarded if it is good, or burnt if it is good-for-nothing.

This is why there is the need to go on and a warning against going back. You can never regain wasted years. Thus the illustration of Hebrews 6:7-8 fits perfectly. All we produce is either for blessing or burning. It is not the believer that will be burned, but what he has produced. Often we take the blessings of the rain and sunshine and yet only produce thorns and briers.

10:9 - The writer stands persuaded of better things from these Hebrew believers than “thorns and briers” and things to be rejected, even though he has been forced to speak in such strong language to them.

10:10 - Moreover, they have produced “good works” and are continuing to do so now. It is not that these things are not appreciated.

10:11 - But there must be the continuing and perseverance. Now he is not saying that they are saved by perseverance, but this is the only way to receive a “full reward” for each years’ harvest. It is not enough to be satisfied with one year, or even a partial crop.

10:12 - “Slothful” goes back to 5:11 and means “dull of hearing” showing this whole section is one unit of truth. Their need was for continued “faith” as believers and “patience” realizing that the promises are for another day.

10:13 - Then he begins to talk about God’s promises.

10:14 - The whole nation of Israel came from this one promise.

10:15 - Abraham had to go through patient endurance in order to obtain the promise. He is an example of the faithful. God’s promises are never immediately rewarded, but this in no way signifies that they are not sure.

10:16 - This is the kind of an affirmation men make, and God also made the same to us. Nothing is higher than God. He is the highest authority and His Word settles and confirms all. There can be no argument against it.

10:17 - God gave His immutable Word and promise, and, as if that were not enough, He gave an oath besides.

10:18 - What is true of Abraham is true for us. The things we have believed are true. Our need is for patient endurance. We have fled for refuge to the Lord Jesus Christ.

A “hope” is set before us. Now remember that hope in Scripture never contains any element doubt as with our English word. Rather it is an anticipated expectation which requires “waiting” for its fulfillment. The waiting for the Lord’s return is waiting for the “the blessed hope” of the believer. Our waiting for the promises God has made to be reality is not faith, but hope. Faith believed them; hope clings to them; love is to characterize our life while we wait.

10:19 - Our hope goes right on into the very presence of God because Jesus Christ is there.

10:20 - And He is the guarantee that we will ultimately be there bodily ourselves. Thus He is our forerunner.

With the mention of Melchizedek, the writer resumes his teaching which he interrupted to give this warning and exhortation.

Note Outline:

II. The Superiority of the Work of the Son (4:14–10:18)

    A. As the Great High Priest (4:14–7:28)—“After the order of Melchizedek.”

    B. As the True Tabernacle (8:1–9:11)—“Not made with hands.”

    C. As the Perfect Sacrifice (9:12–10:18)—“Once for all.”

III. The Superiority of the Outworking of So Great Salvation in the Lives of Believers (10:19–13:25)

It is not enough to know. Knowledge brings responsibility. Because of the superiority of the Son and of His work, we have a superior walk and far superior privileges in this age. But never, never forget that hand in hand with superior privileges come superior responsibilities.

    A. Exhortation (10:19-39)

      1. In light of superior privileges (10:19-25)

      2. In light of greater discipline (10:26-31). THE FOURTH WARNING.

      3. In light of former endurance (10:32-39).

Listen to our superior privileges in this dispensation.

10:19 - We can enter into the Holy of Holies. No one in Israel could do could do this but the high priest alone, and tradition holds that he could only do this once in the year and then only according to specific instructions. He entered in “with fear.” Something of that fear is given in the fact that a rope was tied around his ankle. If anything went wrong, he was pulled out. No one else dared go in.

10:20 - The high priest went around the veil; we go through the veil—the sacrifice of His body and by means of his shed blood. Anyone who does not like the blood of Jesus Christ has no access to God.

10:21 - God’s house today is so superior to His house of Israel. They came in by natural birth; we by spiritual birth. They have a high priest who is subject to death; we have one who will never die. Theirs was imperfect and sinful; our High Priest is sinless. And on and on we could go.

10:22 - The exhortation is to come. When a person in Israel was consecrated into the office of the priesthood, the blood of the sacrificial offering was sprinkled upon him, and he was totally bathed in water. Both acts are spiritual works of God’s operations today in which the believer becomes a believer-priest who ministers under the Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Not everyone in the Old Testament could be a priest, but only those related by birth to Aaron. However, every child of God today can be a believer-priest and consecrated to offer spiritual sacrifices to God because he is related by the new birth to the Lord Jesus Christ.

10:23 - We are to stand erect and firm in our profession of the Lord Jesus Christ and not be tottering between two opinions or positions. He is faithful who promised. He has never failed to keep His word. Why do you think He will now?

10:24 - Here is the relation of one who is strong in clinging to the promises, in relation to one who is weak in faith. The fleshly reaction of the sin nature is to criticize them and push them even further down. The Spirit’s operation is just the reverse.

10:25 - Here is an explanation of good works in this crisis period. Negatively, it is not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as some are doing. Did you realize that missing church attendance is a lack of a good work? Positively it is exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching. The day was the day of judgment upon Jerusalem in A.D. 70 which was a prefigure of the final judgment upon Israel before the Second Coming of Christ.

This brings us to the fourth warning (10:26-31)

It seems to me babyish to have to stop at this point and teach you that the writer of Hebrews is talking to saved people. However, I have learned not to take anything for granted.

(1) The writer of Hebrews nowhere in any passage ever says any word about unbelievers except as an illustration. It is a book from beginning to end whose every word is written to Christian believers. Concerning these believers the author says that Jesus Christ is “the author of eternal salvation” (5:9). “He is able also to save them to the uttermost (i.e., to the very end) that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (7:25). “For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (10:14). Thus he is writing to believers who are not only saved, but eternally saved.

(2) The preceding context is dealing only with believers who have access to God through the blood of Christ. Moreover, verse 26 continues with a “for,” a word that gives an explanation of why we are encouraged to exhort one another and not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. These three exhortations to steadfastness can only be for born again believers, not for unsaved or even professers (10:22-25). The need of the unsaved is to accept Christ.

(3) The context following reveals the same truth (10:32-39). Here we find encouragement to persevere in patience. Unbelievers do not need patient endurance; they need Christ.

(4) Finally, the passage itself shows the writer is addressing believers.

  • “We” (10:26). He includes himself along with them.
  • “Receive full knowledge of the truth” (10:26). Only a believer can come to full knowledge of the truth for the natural man cannot even know the spiritual things of the Word.
  • “There remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” (10-26) shows that they were saved or else the sacrifice of Christ could avail for them.
  • The illustration of 10:28 shows they were saved, for those with Moses were blood-redeemed people and under the blood of the covenant of the law.
  • “The blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified” shows they are believers (10:29). The blood is applied to believers when they are saved. This is the sprinkling mentioned previously. The application of the blood of God’s Son is that which saves us and sets us apart as believers, We are then under the blood of the covenant, and out from under wrath. No unbeliever is under the blood, nor set apart (sanctified) by the blood. The blood on the houses of Israel set them apart from unbelievers, so the same is true here.
  • “The Spirit of grace” shows they are believers (10:29). The Holy Spirit is longsuffering with unbelievers but grace is received through the Holy Spirit only with believers. We are saved by grace through faith. Grace is available to unbelievers, but we who are believers have been recipients of it. Only a believer can, then, “insult” the grace of the Spirit of grace which is the thing involved here. The word has the idea in it of arrogance and willful injury, and it would involve the refusal by the believer to heed the Spirit’s gracious wooings not to commit this specific sin. To go ahead and sin after the gracious operation of the Spirit would be a slap to Him, and He would be grieved.
  • Finally, the use of the quotation in Hebrews 10:30, “The Lord shall judge his people,” shows that this is a reference to believers. Judgment here is not on the world, or unbelievers, but on God’s own people who are His children.

The second problem is the nature of the sin. What sin is this that the cross of Christ does not cover in time.

(1) The nature of the sin (10:26). It is a voluntary sin which the believer wills to commit after he has been saved and come to full knowledge of the truth. Now every time a believer sins it is because he “willed” to sin. He did not have to sin. This is the doctrine of Romans 6, 7 and 8. This act here, however, is something different. It is present tense and may be translated “if we keep on sinning willfully after that we have received full knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.” This sin is, then, a deliberate, premeditated sinning with full knowledge that it is wrong.

(2) The action involved. It is such an act that involves a repudiation of former actions that were good, spiritual, joyful, and for which they were fully aware of future rewards (10:32-35).

(3) The consequences of the act. It would involve a repudiation of their previous confession of Jesus Christ as their Savior (10:23; cf. 3:1; 4:14).

(4) The sin itself. By comparing 10:32-37 with 10:23-25 we may correctly say the sin is (a) a separation of the believer from other believers permanently, and (b) a return of the separated believer to the Temple and all it entails in order to escape the present persecution that was upon them.

(5) The sin involved a denunciation of: (a) The person of Christ (Heb. 1:1–4:13), (b) The work of Christ (Heb. 4:14-10:18), and (c) The ministry of the Holy Spirit of God in the life of the believer (Heb. 10:19–13:25). This is why verse 29 states all three categories.

The final question is what is the nature of the judgment? It just comes down to this. Desiring to escape man’s judgment, they will fall into the judgment of God.

(1) The judgment cannot be loss of eternal salvation or of eternal life (10:39). If it is possible to lose eternal salvation, then it is not eternal salvation.

(2) The judgment does involve loss of spiritual rewards (10:35-36).

(3) The judgment does involve physical death for this is certain to come if they continue and persist in sinning (10:28-29).

(4) The judgment may be that the believer who returns to the Temple and to the City of Jerusalem will be involved in the judgment our Lord prophesied would come upon the city and the Temple (10:25,27). This is why we find in Hebrews 13:13-14 the exhortation to go outside the city bearing His reproach.

Is it possible for a believer today to be guilty of this same sin? It most certainly is. We are saved by the blood of Christ and the eternal guilt of sin is removed forever, but it is possible to neglect this so great salvation and to carelessly drift from it through indifference.

It is possible to stop short of a life of rest and peace which the Lord has planned for us as His child, simply because we never go on living a life of faith and therefore never come to experience the best that God has for us.

It is possible to never mature in the Lord and never grow up, but to be infants in spiritual things all of our lives. Such a person has years of wasted service where all that is produced is “good-for-nothing” but burning.

It is also possible to sin willfully or deliberately with full understanding of the sin and the consequences of our action, and have the hand of God discipline us in time in life even to the point of physical death. We are saved by grace, but grace does not mean that we can do anything we want (Hebrews 10:22-25).

Warning #5:
The Danger of Denying (Part 1)
(Hebrews 12:12-29)

12 Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. 14 Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; 16 that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal. 17 For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.

18 For you have not come to a mountain that may be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, 19 and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word should be spoken to them. 20 For they could not bear the command, "If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned." 21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, "I am full of fear and trembling." 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. 25 See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven. 26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying," Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven." 27 And this expression, "Yet once more," denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; 29 for our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:15-29).

Next we are considering the fifth and final warning in the book of Hebrews. These warnings are an integral part of the message of the Epistle. They take the truth, expounded and relate it to life and action.

The book of Hebrews may be looked upon as in three parts—all concerning the Son and His superior salvation.

I. His Person (1:1–4:13)

II. His Work (4:14–10:18)

III. His Outwork (10:19–13:25)

    His life—what He was from all eternity past.

    His Death—what He did once in a point of time

    His Resurrection Life—what He will be for all eternity to come.

      Who He is.

      What He did.

      What He can do for you.

        The Son—eternal.

        The Savior—perfect.

        The Shepherd—great.

          He is Prophet—the Revealer. As such lie represents God to man.

            As Prophet, He was crowned with thorns (John 19:2).

          He is Priest—the Sacrificer. As such He represents man to God.

            As Priest., He is crowned with glory and honor (Heb. 2:9).

          He is King—the Sovereign. As such He represents man to man.

            As King, He will be crowned with many crowns (Rev. 19:12).

Beginning at 10:19 we commence the last section of the book. This is the application of the doctrine. It is our work in light of His work.

We have superior privileges (Heb. 10:19-21), but with these come also greater responsibilities (10:22-25). We are exhorted to enter into these greater privileges (10:22) to hold fast to our profession of Christ as Savior because God’s promises will come to pass (10:23), and to encourage one another, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together (10.24-25).

The reason we must do these things is because if we willfully sin having full knowledge of the sin and its consequences, God is forced to chasten us (10:26-29) because of His very nature (10:33-31). He cannot and will not let His children get by with this any more than we could let our children get by with this.

The Hebrews are thus encouraged to persevere in patience (10:32-39). They have previously endured (10:32-34) so they should continue (10:35-36) because the Word of the Lord stands sure (10:37) and all who please God must patiently endure, living by faith (10:38-39).

In fact, real faith produces patient endurance (11:1-3), and this is seen in every era of the Old Testament (11:4-40). The implication is, to go back to the Temple of Jerusalem is not to be joined to the faithful company of the Old Testament at all, but is to depart from them.

All of the Old Testament saints are a witness to us that the race can be run (12:1), and the only way to have rest is through patient endurance even as was true of the Lord Jesus Christ (12:2) . When we consider Christ and His sufferings, our sufferings and struggles are mild (12:3-4). But God has a purpose in the believer receiving discipline with patient endurance, and that is the maturity of His child (12:5-11).

So the believer has an obligation to weaker ones in the assembly (12:12-13) and to himself (12:14). He must know the three dangers that are before him (12:15-16) which may be illustrated by Esau’s decision which was irrevocable even though he regretted it later. Esau had neither faith nor patient endurance, and he was cut off by one act from the place of blessing (12:17).

By application, if the Hebrews returned to the old system of the Temple, they go to that of utter “terror” (12:18-22), and they leave in contrast the place of privilege and grace, and the heavenly city which is the reward of those who faithfully endure (12:22-24).

Therefore, there must be a final warning. Abel’s blood spoke continually on earth; Christ’s blood is greater and speaks continually from heaven that He shall come, judge, and bring in the new age with its new covenant (12:25-27). So patiently endure, offering spiritual worship as a believer-priest, knowing God purifies dross (12:28-29).

This carries us through the fifth warning. Now let us look at the context to this final warning in detail.

    Our Responsibility in light of all of the Facts Presented (12:12-29)
      1. The Exhortation (12:12-17)

12:12 - “Wherefore,” in light of all of these facts presented this conclusion goes back all the way to the willful sin in 10:26. In light of it and the truth presented from 10:26 to 12:11 the exhortation is given. “Lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees.” Here is our relationship to others in the body.

(1) Hands—we are to lift then up in prayer even as Moses did (Ex. 17:11-12) in order to win the victory for others. We are not to be defeated and discouraged. We are not to criticize someone else; we are to pray for them.

(2) Knees—feeble knees will not hold you up in the day of battle (Ezek. 7:17). We are to be strong in battle and not terrified by the adversary.

12:13 - “And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”

(3) Feet—The Children of Israel wandered around in circles for 38 years without ever going anywhere. We are to make straight paths for our feet. We are to go on. We are to look unto Jesus, and setting our eyes on Him, not wander from the course set before us.

“Lame” here is “to be put out of joint” and it speaks of the shuffle of the paralytic, Some in the body were paralyzed, and they were traveling along with greatest of difficulty. The figure of the body is used to represent the church and its spiritual condition and it shows that the lame person is spiritually lame. This person is to be spiritually healed so that the whole body may move out and move on together, without some being left behind.

12:14 - “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” Here is the injunction to each person individually rather than collectively as in the preceding verses. “Peace” indicates there is to be no quarrel, no animosity between ourselves and anyone else. “Holiness” signifies we are to be set apart for the Lord. The one is our personal relationship with others; and the other is our personal relationship with the Lord Himself.

12:15 - “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God.” This word “looking diligently” signifies searching out carefully or minutely just like the Israelites searched their homes before the Passover to rid them of all leaven. It is constant spiritual oversight by each one of us of our own lives. The reason is three-fold, brought out by the three occurrences of the word “lest.” Here are three dangers that every believer may face and for which he must be constantly on guard.

(1) “… lest any man fail of the grace of God.” This is failure on the part of the child of God to appropriate grace. Whenever I fail to appropriate grace for the needs of the day, I will fail when testing and temptation come. God has provided grace to meet it, but I have failed to appropriate it. I will then react according to my sin nature.

If God brings something into our lives, He will also give us grace to overcome it and gain the victory (2 Cor. 12:9), rather than to be overcome by it. “As our days, so shall our strength be.” These Hebrew Christians were going through trials and testings, but they had failed to appropriate God’s grace so as to stand up under the testings. Thus they were living defeated lives. They had failed of the grace of God.

(2) “… lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you., and thereby many be defiled.” This is open infidelity. Bitterness in the heart leads to murmuring with the tongue. And murmuring is one of the most dangerous sins because it always affects others and leavens the whole camp. It starts with one., but it ends defiling many. This is what happened in Israel over and over again.

So it is always, when I fail to appropriate grace, there will be a root of bitterness in my heart against God who has allowed this “trouble” to come, and it will ultimately come out in my speech.

(3) “… lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.” This final step and condition is open contempt of what is our responsibility or our privilege. The entire passage hinges on this one illustration. It is very significant.

There are two obstacles to holiness that are presented here: fornication and profane person. Esau represents the latter and this is also the danger of the Hebrews. “A little bit of material food” emphasizes for how little Esau sold his birthright.

Now the birthright and its significance to Esau can only be understood as one understands that this was not merely being heir of flocks and herds, and Esau rejected this. This is not the issue. God had made a covenant with Abraham, and that covenant promise was going to be fulfilled through Isaac’s heirs. Esau was the one in direct line, and being the elder son of Isaac would have received the elder son portion, i.e., two-thirds. But he surrendered for himself and his descendants the covenant promises of God for one meal. That is what he thought of God’s promises, and that is how much he wanted to wait, or patiently endure for them.

What was Esau’s problem? He failed to appropriate the grace of God (12:15a). Consequently, there was in Esau a root of bitterness against God. Esau was in trouble and hungry. He was angry with God because God could have prevented him from being hungry. This bitterness of heart expressed itself and he became materialistic. He recognized nothing but the here and now. He focused his whole attention on material things, not on invisible and eternal things. He thought more of one meal now than receiving the fulfillment of all the promises God had made at a later date. God calls this being profane. This is cursing God in the heart, and God looks upon the heart.

12:17 “For ye know how that 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.”

Esau represents here a covenant son. This is essential for one to realize or they will miss the point of the illustration. The Hebrews are also saved and in a covenant position in relation to God. Yet Esau was rejected on the basis of one decision, for this decision was irrevocable, even though he later sought to change the decision with tears.

This is the warning to the Hebrews lest they also make an irrevocable decision that would cut them off from blessing. Salvation is not in view here as it has not been in view anywhere beyond the first warning, but eligibility for blessing is in view.

In Hebrews 10:26 we found that the willful sin will bring temporal judgments upon the person who commits it. Now the added truth is here stated that this decision of sinning willfully is an irrevocable decision. If the Hebrews commit this, they will never be able to go back and change it later on regardless of tears or anything else. They will have turned from God’s blessings not found in Judaism, and will never be able to come back to the place of blessing now enjoyed. They will settle for a blasted life, and they will have disqualified themselves from any place of leadership ever again in the assembly. The sin can be forgiven, but the effects will continue on and on. Esau, for one sin, was cut off from God’s blessing. Take heed!

It all starts with a little thing of failing to appropriate the grace of God. But there are no little things in the Christian life. Let us look diligently lest any of us fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble us, and thereby many be defiled.

We are not immune to failure.

Warning #5:
The Danger of Denying (Part 2)

How long has it been since you heard a message on hell? It has been quite a while hasn’t it? Perhaps many of you have never heard a message on the lake of fire. While I have read sermons on the subject, I have never heard one myself. This is not a very popular subject, and is neglected by default of those who do believe in it.

But., beloved, if there is not a hell to be saved from, then there is absolutely no need for a Savior to rescue us from it. A Savior is meaningless without a certain death. While I am not going to speak on hell, I do want to relate its truth to unbelievers.

We who are believers have experienced the Lord’s so great salvation. We have come to know that He saved us from an eternal death. We are saved and that salvation is eternal (Heb. 5:8-9). This eternal salvation has saved us from eternal judgment (Heb. 6:2). This is why it is so great salvation because He bore our eternal judgment in a point of time.

The believer’s problem, then, can never be eternal salvation or eternal judgment. That issue stands settled. “We are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Heb. 10:39).

Our problem as believers is not a matter with sin that would cause us to lose our eternal salvation, but it is with sin that would cause us to lose the Lord’s blessings in our lives, and may even cause us to lose our lives in death. Our problem is with time—not eternity. Our problem is with our physical life—not our eternal soul. Our problem is with physical death—not eternal death.

This is the issue before the Hebrew Christians, and it is the issue with us also.

Some sins are small, but others are not. Some things we do are relatively unimportant, while other things are very important. This is why I John 5 speaks about sin not unto death., and about sin unto death. We are to stop and. take heed to ourselves and our actions “for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29).

I want you to notice that this is never spoken in reference to unbelievers. God is not, and never will be, a consuming fire in reference to unbelievers. For unbelievers He will be an eternal fire that will consume nothing. However, in reference to the believer He is a consuming fire that will consume all that is wood, hay and stubble, and all that is thorns and briers. He will even take away our lives if we are completely displeasing to Him.

Never say, “that couldn’t happen here; it couldn’t ever happen to me.” This was the attitude at the time of Christ when they said: “If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves; that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets” (Matt. 23:30-31).

There is not any sin that we as believers are not capable of committing. This is why we are to take heed to ourselves lest we fall (1 Cor. 10:11-12; 1 Tim. 4:16; Heb. 4:11).

We saw in the last lesson that the route of any failure is a progression involving three stages.

(1) It begins with failing to appropriate grace. “… lest any man fail of the grace of God” (12:15a).

(2) The next step is having bitterness in the heart. “… lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled” (12:15b). Bitterness in the heart leads to murmuring with the mouth, and this leads others to sin also.

(3) The final step is open contempt of what is our responsibility or our privilege. “… lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.” Either one of these two sins permanently disqualifies one from service and from blessings therein.

Concerning these three things we are to search out ourselves and our hearts carefully, to give inspection, to oversee continually lest these things come into our lives unexpectedly and undetected. No one sins any other route. We fail to appropriate God’s grace for the situation or trial. This leads us to have bitterness in our hearts to God for allowing this hardship or difficulty to come upon us. What is in our hearts ultimately comes out and it defiles others. All this in turn causes a final state in which we settle for the temporal rather than the eternal; for the here-and-now rather than the hereafter; and for the material rather than the spiritual. We fail to patiently endure. This is what Esau did, and his decision was irrevocable. We are capable of doing the same thing.

Here is a young man or a young woman. The Lord has called them to the mission field. The way to Bolivia, or India, or Morocco is long and hard. They fail to appropriate the grace necessary for the way and for the testings along the journey. Then everything caves in. “God is not really concerned about me. He really does not love me. If He loved me He would have provided for me, and given me a life partner.” Then the person falls in love with someone not called to the field and they are married. They made a decision that is irrevocable. They have missed the perfect will of God and must settle the remainder of their lives for that which is His second best, His 20th best, or His 200th best.

Having given the exhortation not to fail (Heb. 12:12-17), we come to our next point …

      (2) The Believer’s Privileges and Position (12:18-24)

18 For you have not come to a mountain that may be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, 19 and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word should be spoken to them. 20 For they could not bear the command, "If even a beast touches the mountain, it will be stoned." 21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, "I am full of fear and trembling." 22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel (Hebrews 12:18-24)

The believer must understand his privileges and his position today or he cannot understand why the Lord will judge him so severely for disobedience. The author of this book states this truth both negatively and positively.

Negatively (12:18-21)

To go back to the law and the Temple is to go back to a system of terror. The law was a system of terror. “Do you not hear the law,” the writer is saying. The contrast here is between the Old Testament revelation and its responsibilities with the New Testament and its responsibilities and privileges.

Positively (12:22-24)

The one was “terror”; the other is “grace” and far superior privileges. The emphasis is not on the city, but on the One living in the city. Look at the occupants of the city.

(1) Angels, i.e., the holy angels.

(2) Church of the Lord Jesus Christ (which began at Pentecost and will end at the rapture).

(3) God, the Judge of all.

(4) Spirits of just men made perfect (the Old Testament saints who are not a part of the church nor ever will


(5) Jesus., the mediator of the New Covenant.

(6) Blood of Sprinkling, i.e., the mercy seat, or the throne of grace as it is called in Hebrews.

This is the city we are looking for, not some earthly city. Abel was the very first person to offer blood sacrifice. It was a testimony from then on, even though he was dead, that this is God’s only method of acceptance and only way of approach (Cf. 11:4).

But now there is a greater witness than that of Abel, because there is greater blood in a greater place that is continually speaking to men. The blood of Jesus Christ is God’s only means of acceptance and only way of approach.

      (3) The Final Warning (12:25-29)

In light of the better blood in a better place, and all the superior privileges we possess, there is a far greater obligation and responsibility that is ours.

12:25 - “See that ye refuse not Him that speaketh.” Literally it is “He who is right now speaking” (present tense). This ties the Epistle of Hebrews and its message into one unit. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his son” (Heb. 1:1-2) “Therefore … how shall we escape …” (Heb. 2:1,3).

These Hebrew believers in grace who reject the present voice of the Lord are guilty of a far greater sin than their fathers. Their fathers did not escape; so much more will they not escape. “How much more sorer punishment” (Heb. 10:29). “The Lord will judge His people” (Heb. 10:30).

It is not salvation, but temporal punishment that is in view here (cf. 1 Cor. 11:31-32).

12:26 - The One who spoke on Sinai is now the One who speaks from heaven in grace and bids us come. He is yet to speak one more time, and the last time He comes and speaks it will be in judgment.

You had better be right with Him. It is one thing to be out of step with an earthly monarch. It is something else to be out of step with the Sovereign of the universe.

The prophecy quoted here is from Haggai 2:6 and refers to the second coming of Christ. It pictures judgment which precedes the coming of a new age. The shaking of the earth will be the purifying judgment and the removal of all things not in conformity to the holiness of the Lord and not subject to the King.

God will yet do this for Israel. You had better be found on the right side in that day. The judgment in A. D. 70 was just a preview of the final judgment that will occur.

12:27 - Those things that can be shaken show they are temporary. What is unshakable manifests it is eternal. The Temple and the old covenant as prophesied are shakable and therefore temporary. The New Jerusalem and the new covenant are unshakable and eternal. The Temple will be completely destroyed. The old covenant will pass away, but both the New Jerusalem of the new covenant with the house of Israel will last forever. The shaking is viewed as already in process.

12:28 - The final appeal is given to “believers.” Believers are looked upon as in a process of receiving a kingdom. At the present time the Mediator is still in heaven. The establishment of this kingdom on earth with the New Jerusalem over the earth is definite and sure, yet it is still unseen. We must abide faithful, and obtain grace so as to patiently endure for our reward until He comes or until He calls home. In the meantime we are to serve the Lord acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

You do not love someone you do not respect. You cannot love the Lord unless you respect Him. The Lord will judge His children. You had better take heed and reverence Him. No child will deliberately sin without paying the full price in discipline from the Lord.

Acceptable service to God is in the called out assembly, not in returning back to the Temple and offering animal sacrifices.

12:29 - The exhortation closes and the warnings are over. But the discipline awaits all who will not heed. Hebrews begins with the Son speaking, and it ends with the blood of the Son continuing to speak from heaven as an eternal witness.

We have considered the five warnings of Hebrews. Here are five flashing red lights on the road of disobedience. They are five stop signs on the freeway of backsliding. Each one of these warnings may be illustrated by the nation of Israel in covenant relationship with the Lord. Just as these things happened to the nation of Israel under the blood of the first covenant, so these things may happen of the church under the blood of the new covenant.

(1) The Danger of Drifting (Heb. 2). The children of Israel w ho were redeemed by blood and by power, drifted from the truth at Mount Sinai, and they made a golden calf. It cost the physical life of 5,000 saved Israelites. So the question is asked us: “How shall we escape if we drift from so great salvation?”

(2) The Danger of Not Entering into Rest (Heb. 3-4). After leaving Mount Sinai, the nation of Israel wandered for 40 years in the wilderness. The nation and generation that accepted His salvation perished in the wilderness because they refused to continue a life of faith. Over a million perished. We are not only saved “by faith,” but “the just shall live by faith.” Here is the danger for us of doubting, of not walking by faith as a believer, and of missing His rest and His best.

(3) The Danger of Not Going on to Maturity (Heb. 5-6). This was the state of the nation after entering into Canaan under the judges, the kings and the prophets. They never grew up as a nation. They were never able to use the Word of God in their lives. They never applied it to life’s situations. The result was that thousands upon thousands perished in the sieges and conflicts of the Assyrian and Babylonian Captivities.

(4) The Danger of the Willful Sin (Heb. 10). Here is a picture of the nation at the time of the first coming of Christ. They kept on sinning willfully. Christ even spoke a parable against those of His generation (Luke 20:9-16,19; cf. Matt. 21:43). Consequently the Lord Himself said: “The blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world (shall) be required of this generation” (Luke 11:50). Josephus tells us that millions of Jews perished in A.D. 70 under the Roman, General Titus. The nation had committed the willful sin.

(5) The Danger of Indifference.(Heb 12). This will yet be the sin of the nation of Israel during the coming tribulation. The Lord speaks in Matthew 25:1-13 of the five wise and five foolish virgins, and shows the indifference on part of even those who profess. Many will not patiently endure. The Old Testament prophets have prophesied that two-thirds of the nation of Israel will perish in the tribulation period because they are indifferent to spiritual realities.

You may have noticed that each of these warnings is greater than the previous one, and that failure to heed them brought in each case more severe discipline. This same progression of sinning that is possible in the life experience of these second generation believers, and that which may be illustrated in the history of the children of Israel, may also be illustrated in the history of the church as seen in Revelation 2 and 3.

(1) The Danger of Drifting. While this is a danger to any generation of believers, it was an actuality in the time of the church of Pergamos, which is a picture of the exalted church from the time of Constantine to Gregory the Great. They drifted from the truth, and had those in the church with different doctrine—doctrines of Balaam and the doctrine of the Nicolaitans.

The message was “repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” They did not repent and the Lord himself destroyed those in the church with the sword of His mouth even as the Levites had destroyed 3,000 at the time of the golden calf incident.

(2) The Danger of Not Entering into Rest. The church at Thyatira went into open rebellion against the Lord even as Israel openly rebelled against the Lord and against Moses. For Israel it was a very dark period of her history where a generation perished in the wilderness. For the church it is the dark ages where a millennium of souls perished without light.

(3) The Danger of Not Going on to Maturity. The church at Sardis had the truth, but not the life. They had a name that they lived, but they were dead. They failed to use the Word in daily practice, and so failed to go on to maturity even though they had come to salvation. Their works were not perfect before God, for they produced only things destined for the bonfire.

(4) The Danger of the Willful Sin. The church at Philadelphia faced a crisis in which they had to decide whether they would keep true to the Lord’s word and not deny His name, or whether they would give up both. This church did not fail this crisis. But the implication is that there were others who did. It was only a very small church, a remnant, that remained true to the Lord. This is a picture of the modernism fundamentalism controversy that took place in the last half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. At this time most of the church committed the willful sin, denying the person of Christ, the blood work of Christ and did despite unto the Spirit of grace.

(5) The Danger of Indifference. Here is the Laodicean period of the church, or the modern ecumenical church. The Lord is seen standing outside the door of His own church, and the church itself is totally indifferent to His knock and His voice. Therefore His call is to any individual who will hear and let Him come into them. This church, along with the church of Thyatira, will go into the Great Tribulation. God will give them just as they have given Him. He will spew them out of His mouth.

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

As a believer I cannot live just any way and get by with it. I am not going to get by; I am going to get it. But “if we would judge ourselves we should not be judged” (1 Cor. 11:31). But when we will not judge ourselves then “God will judge His people.”

Write this on your heart, and live accordingly. You cannot love One that you do not respect. Disobedience brings discipline; obedience brings blessing: it is just as we will it.

The Church and the New Covenant

One of the great programs of God is His covenant program. No understanding of Scripture is possible without understanding God’s covenant program. What took place on Calvary was a part of that program, for it was there that the blood of the New Covenant was shed. This is why the communion cup is said to be “the new testament” (or new covenant) “in my blood” (1 Cor. 11:25).

But just how does the church relate to this New Covenant. We read a caption at the beginning of the last 27 books of Scripture: “The New Testament.” The word testament and covenant are identical. Thus these are the New Covenant books. But just what is the church’s relationship to this New Covenant? Does Scripture say? Yes, it does; and the truth is very important to us.


    A. Definition. What is a covenant?

A covenant is a binding agreement between two parties which prescribes a course of action that will be followed. It is a contract that is binding. I agree to pay so much money and you agree to deliver to me such and such in return. This is a covenant.

    B. Two Types of Covenants in Scripture.
      1. Conditional Covenant.

Here a certain course of action will occur after something else occurs. “If you do this, then I will do that.” This covenant is always identifiable by “if … then …” In this type of agreement, there are conditions attached. One or both parties must meet the conditions before the covenant agreement will be met.

God entered into a conditional covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai, and they entered in with Him. “All that the Lord says we will do.” They bound themselves to this covenant. God promised blessing if the people obeyed His laws and He promised judgment if they disobeyed.

By the way, this is the only conditional covenant God ever entered into with man. All the rest are unconditional. Some people teach that God entered into a covenant of works with Adam in the Garden. This is totally wrong. God told Adam what would happen for disobedience. There was no agreement whatever between them. For there to be a conditional covenant, Adam would have had to agree to the conditions. You can have an unconditional covenant with one person agreeing to act and the other person saying nothing (this is what happened in the case of Abraham when God put him to sleep, and the Lord alone entered into the covenant), but you cannot have a conditional covenant without both parties covenanting together. This never happened in the Garden of Eden.

      2. Unconditional Covenant

This is a covenant agreement in which no conditions are attached on which fulfillment depends. An unconditional covenant states what one party will do regardless of human action, merit, failure, or any other conditions. When an unconditional covenant is entered into in Scripture by God, the key words are, “I will.”

God entered into an unconditional covenant with David that He would establish David’s house and throne forever (2 Sam. 7:12-16). God would chasten his descendants if they sinned, but he would never remove the promised agreement regardless of anything (cf. Ps. 89:34-37).

There is one more thing that should be carefully noted. There may be a condition or conditions attached as to whether a covenant may be enacted with a certain party or not, while once it is enacted the covenant itself is unconditional. This was the case with the Abrahamic covenant where Abraham had to leave his father and land before the covenant applied to him; but once he had met the conditions, the covenant itself is unconditional.

    C. The Various Relationships of Covenants in Scripture

All kinds of covenant agreements are given in Scripture for the express purpose of teaching us just exactly what a covenant is, and how it operated. We will mention just a few of each type.

      1. Covenants of Men

      a. Covenants between individuals and individuals.

  • Abraham and Abimelech (Gen. 21:32).
  • Jacob and Laban (Gen. 31:44).
  • Jonathan and David (1 Sam. 18:3).
  • The marriage bond is a form of a covenant agreement (Prov. 2:17; Mal. 2:14).

      b. Covenants between an individual and a group.

  • Isaac and Abimelech with the nation (Gen. 26:28).
  • Jabash-Gilead and Nahash, the Ammonite (1 Sam. 11:1-2).

      c. Covenants between nation and nation.

  • Israel and the Gibeonites (Joshua 9:15-21).

This shows us something of the binding nature of a covenant. Once a covenant is entered into, it is irrevocable even though obtained by false pretenses. If this is true with man—and it is—how much more is this true with God.

Numbers 23:19 “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”

Romans 11:29 “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.”

      2. Covenants of God.

      a. Covenants between God and the world generally.

  • No flood to destroy all mankind (Gen. 9:8-17).
  • Covenant of day and night (Jer. 33:20,25; Gen. 8:22).

      b. Covenants between God and Israel.

  • Covenant of the Law (Ex. 19:5-8).
  • Covenant of Restoration (Deut. 30:1-9).

      c. Covenants between God and Individuals.

  • With Abraham (Gen. 12ff).
  • With David (2 Sam. 7:12-16).

From all of these various types, it can be seen that a covenant may be in the physical, social, political or spiritual realm.

    D. The Ratifying of Covenants

While a covenant is a promise, an agreement, or a contract -which may be only verbal (Josh. 9:15-21)., yet it may also be ratified by some means. Three such means are used in Scripture.

      1. A Shoe Covenant.

Here was something valuable to one person only, and something quite individualistic, yet it would be given as a symbol of ratifying the covenant. If both shoes had been given, then this might have been valuable to another, but this cannot be the case with the giving of but one shoe (Deut. 25:9; Ruth 4:7).

      2. The Salt Covenant.

Salt was very valuable in this country and it was used as a means of ratifying an agreement (Lev. 2:13. Num. 18:19. 2 Chron. 13:5).

      3. A Sacrifice or Blood Covenant.

This was the most binding of all means of ratifying a covenant. God ratified His covenant promise to Abraham with a blood sacrifice (Gen. 15:9-15). Abraham realized what was going on and what it meant. In a blood covenant, the two parties would join hands and walk between the divided pieces. The Hebrew expression for making a covenant is literally, “to cut a covenant,” and comes from cutting the animal into two pieces. A blood covenant was dissolved only by death. So binding was this covenant that to break it meant I will give my blood as even this innocent animal. You actually need only one animal sacrifice for a blood covenant.

    E. Symbols or Signs Employed to Show a Covenant had been Established

Many and various symbols or signs were used to show that a covenant had been established. Do not confuse the ratifying of a covenant with the sign of the covenant, for these are two entirely separate things. The sign might be anything:

  • Rainbow (Gen. 9). Sign of covenant with the whole of creation.
  • Circumcision (Gen. 17:10-12). Sign of Abrahamic covenant.
  • Animals (Gen. 21:30). Sign of covenant between Abraham and Abimeleck.
  • Sabbath (Ex. 31:16-17). The sign of the Mosaic covenant.
  • Clothes (1 Sam. 18:4). The sign of the covenant between David and Jonathan.
  • Bread and Cup (1 Cor. 11:23-25). The sign that the blood sacrifice has been made for the new covenant.
    F. The Covenant People

While God has entered into agreements with all mankind and even with the animal creation as in Genesis 9, He has only entered into covenant relationships with one people or nation. That nation is Israel. God never entered into a covenant with any other people, nor with any Gentile nation: neither Moab, nor Ishmaelites, nor Edom, nor the American Indian as Mormonism contends.

The truth stated positively: “Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants …” (Rom. 9:4).

The truth stated negatively. Speaking of Gentiles, “That at that time, ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise … (Eph. 2:12).

Oh, I wish people knew what Paul taught about the covenants. Men who know so well what he teaches about justification by faith, know so little what he teaches about the covenants.

This is extremely important. A covenant made by Joshua with the Gibeonites had to be kept with them and could not be transferred to the Edomites. Likewise when God entered into a covenant with Israel and gave the physical descendants an unconditional covenant promise ratified by blood, it is legally binding upon God to that nation. This covenant cannot either legally, morally or spiritually be transferred to another people. If you can do this, then who can say that God might not transfer His covenant promise of salvation made to us, and transfer it to the fallen angels. What then happens to eternal salvation and justification? If an unconditional covenant can be transferred in one case, who can say it cannot be transferred in another?

It is time we let God be true and every man a liar. God must fulfill His word made to Israel with Israel and not with the descendants of Ishmael, or with the church, or with any other people. Paul says in Romans 11 that God will do this very thing.

    G. God’s Method of Fulfilling the Covenants

God only has one method of fulfilling Scripture whether it is prophecy, type, parable or covenants. God fulfills His Word literally in exact and specific detail. No proof has ever been shown for any other method of fulfillment.

God’s Covenant Program with Israel

No understanding of Scripture is possible apart from an understanding of God’s covenant program with His covenant people. There are three main covenants:

  • The Abrahamic Covenant that commenced the nation.
  • The Mosaic Covenant that bound the nation.
  • The New Covenant that will free the nation.

Besides these three are two minor covenants.

  • The Palestinian Covenant.
  • The Davidic Covenant.

Both of these covenants, however, only enlarge upon the provisions of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Let us look at the three major covenants.

(1) The Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12-22). This is an eternal, unconditional, blood covenant. The covenant promise was made in Genesis 12; the covenant was ratified by blood in Genesis 15; the sign of the covenant was given in Genesis 17. This covenant was stated over again to both Isaac and Jacob and so by-passed Ishmael and Esau. God over and over again refers to Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He does this because He is referring to His covenant with these men.

There are three key words in the Abrahamic Covenant. These three are “land,” “seed,” and “blessing.” This covenant is the basis for all the rest of God’s dealings with Israel, and through Israel with the world.

(2)The Mosaic Covenant (Ex. 20:1–31:18). This was a temporary, conditional, blood covenant. The blood made it binding, but it is nowhere spoken of as an eternal covenant. In fact., the moment God announced through His prophet that there was to be a New Covenant (Jer. 31; etc.,) which would replace this Mosaic Covenant, at that moment this covenant was shown to be temporary. This is the whole argument of the writer of Hebrews.

(3) The New Covenant. This is an eternal, unconditional, blood covenant (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 37:26; Rom. 11:25-27; Heb. 8:6-13; 10:16-17). The new covenant enlarges and fulfills all that was promised in the Abrahamic Covenant, but it also supersedes the Mosaic Covenant. It does what the Mosaic Covenant never could do, not because there was anything wrong with the Mosaic Covenant as such, but because there was something wrong with the people (cf. Heb. 8:8, “for finding fault with them,” i.e., the people under the covenant, “he said …”).

This New Covenant is prophesied as being made with the nation of Israel in the last days. It will make old the first covenant (Mosaic Covenant was the first covenant made with the nation), and will thus supercede it. The Mosaic Covenant was never spoken of as an eternal covenant, yet all of the other covenants made with Israel were somewhere in Scripture called eternal covenants.

As we have said, the problem with the Old Covenant of the law was not in the law itself because it was holy, righteous and good (Rom. 7:12). The problem was with the heart of man. The New Covenant solves this problem by changing the heart (Jer. 31:33). This will involve a complete understanding of the Lord (Jer. 31:34a). Teachers of the Lord will be out of a job in that day. Man will be back in the place of fellowship with God which was lost in the Garden of Eden. Moreover, God will do a complete work in reference to sin (Jer. 31:34b). This is just a few of the things Scripture tells us concerning this glorious covenant.

The Church’s Relation to the New Covenant

What does Scripture tell us? Is the New Covenant already in existence? Has it already been made with the church? I would answer as Paul answers: Me Genoito (translated: “God forbid”).

(1) Paul says the covenants pertain to Israel, and the church is not Israel, for God will yet deal with Israel (Rom. 11:26-29) in covenant relationship. Now if the church is Israel, then who in the world is Israel?

(2) The New Covenant is specifically said to be made “with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah” (Jer. 31:31). The Lord makes no mistakes in His wording. He says what He means and means what He says. He doesn’t say “Israel” and mean “The Church.” The writer of Hebrews confirms this truth. By stating both houses, it has to refer to the nation of Israel (Heb. 8:8). Verse 9 shows them to be the same people God led out of Egypt. This also has to refer to Israel.

Now just which house is the church? It is neither “house.” God never entered into a covenant with my father, did He with yours? The church is not composed of just those of Israel, but it is composed of Jew and Gentile. The church is one new man.

(3) The Covenant will be enacted at the second coming of Christ (Rom. 11:26) with the coming of a Deliverer that will do a complete job in reference to sin in Israel. This was never done when Christ came the first time. In fact, at the first coming of Christ, the sins from Abel to Zecharias were required of that generation; they were not removed.

This period when the Covenant will be made is spoken of as “the last days.” The first coming of Christ is never called the last days. Moreover, when this New Covenant is made, Israel will be the Lord’s people and they will have the Lord as their God. They will teach no one to know the Lord for all will know Him. The Lord will forgive their sins and remember them no more. None of these things have yet been fulfilled, so therefore, the New Covenant has not been made as yet.

In summary then:

  • The Great Deliverer has not come and turned away ungodliness from Jacob.
  • The last days have not been fulfilled.
  • The teaching of the Person of the Lord today is very necessary for all men do not know Him.
  • The forgiveness of sins has not occurred in reference to Israel.
  • Consequently, the New Covenant has not been made with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, and this exactly what the writer of Hebrews states.

No Scripture anywhere says the New Covenant has been made with the Church. What Christ said at the last supper was: “This is my blood of the new covenant” (Matt. 26:28 and Mark 14:24), and “This is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20 and 1 Cor. 11:25). The blood of the New Covenant is not the New Covenant. The New Covenant in blood is still not the New Covenant itself.

What is involved? When Christ returns to the nation of Israel and appears the second time., He will appear without sin (Heb. 9:28). At His second appearing there will be no sacrifice for sin and no blood ratifying of the New Covenant that will be made. The blood sacrifice will have been made years before at the Lord’s first coming. This sacrifice of blood at the first coming will ratify the New Covenant with the nation of Israel at the second coming. The one sacrifice of Christ is the basis of everything, and of every provision.

Here then is the picture. Just as Moses went up on the mountain to receive the Old Covenant and was thus the mediator of the covenant between God and the people, so Christ has ascended to heaven itself and is the mediator of a better covenant. “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises” (Heb. 8:6).

Hebrews 12:24 says in reference to the city to which we are to come and to its inhabitants: “… and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.” He is the mediator of the New Covenant but has never returned to enact that New Covenant with the people to whom the covenant belongs. Just as the covenant was not enacted with the nation until Moses came down from the mountain, so the New Covenant of which Christ is the Mediator today will not be enacted with the nation until Christ returns “without sin unto salvation”

8 For finding fault with them, He says, "Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, When I will effect a new covenant With the house of Israel and with the house of Judah; 9 Not like the covenant which I made with their fathers On the day when I took them by the hand To lead them out of the land of Egypt; For they did not continue in My covenant, And I did not care for them, says the Lord. 10 "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel After those days, says the Lord : I will put My laws into their minds , And I will write them upon their hearts . And I will be their God , And they shall be My people. 11 "And they shall not teach everyone his fellow citizen, And everyone his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' For all shall know Me, From the least to the greatest of them. 12 "For I will be merciful to their iniquities, And I will remember their sins no more." 13 When He said, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear (Hebrews 8:8-13).

… so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him (Hebrews 9:28).

You will remember that while Moses was on the mountain mediating the Covenant that the nation was in unbelief. God desired to cast them off from His sight. Moses interceded and the covenant was made ultimately with the nation after a second attempt.

This is what is taking place today. The nation of Israel is in unbelief (Rom. 11:20; etc.). During this time when the nation is in unbelief, anyone (Jew or Gentile) may be saved by faith, by believing in the One who is greater than Moses who has ascended to the Mount of God and is today mediating the New Covenant.

“By so much was Jesus made a surety” (literally “guarantee”) “of a better testament” (Heb. 7:22). Why is Jesus the guarantee of a better testament or covenant? Simply because the better covenant has not been enacted yet. If it had been enacted you would not have needed the guarantee that it will be. Because of the shed blood, we who are believers today believe that the New Covenant will be enacted. We are saved by the blood of the New Covenant, which is called in Hebrews 13:20 “the blood of the everlasting covenant,” because this covenant once made will never give place to another throughout all eternity.

The New Testament believer today comes under the blessings of the blood of the covenant, and is “by faith” appropriating from the Mountain of God’s throne the mediatorship of the Lord Jesus Christ. Israel, in unbelief, never approaches this Mountain; we by faith and by blood approach it as a throne of grace, not judgment.

You should never confuse the blessings which the believer enjoys today because the New Covenant promise has been ratified by the blood sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the fulfillment or enactment of the New Covenant with Israel at the second coming of Christ. These are two completely distinct and separate entities. The ratification has only made it doubly sure. It has made the oath (or promise God previously made) an absolute surety of fulfillment. It has not fulfilled the promise; it has only guaranteed its fulfillment. Jesus today in the Father’s presence is the guarantee of its future fulfillment.

Thus the believer has two immutable things upon which to stand by faith in which both are impossible for God to lie (Heb. 6:18). The one is God’s promise or oath. The other is His ratification of the New Covenant promise with the very blood of His own Son. Just as the Abrahamic covenant had blessings that extended to the whole world so does the Hew Covenant and we by faith today through blood may experience those blessings.

The Lord has given temporary tokens to believers today as symbols that the New Covenant will be enacted. These temporary tokens which we are to do until He returns are the bread and the cup. They tell the story of the sacrifice that ratifies the covenant until the covenant itself will be enacted with Israel at the time of the Lord’s return. This is why they are only temporary: “till he come” (1 Cor. 11:26). This is why the believer must wait and patiently endure. In the meantime “we have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle” (Heb. 13:10).

When we accept Christ as our personal Savior, we are exercising personal faith in what Christ did for us in dying for our sins. This is our part. God’s part is to unconditionally save us and all who believe in His Son—His person and His work.

And, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:14-16).

Related Topics: Soteriology (Salvation), Introductions, Arguments, Outlines