The Different Roles of the The Holy Spirit before and after Jesus’ Death and Resurrection

Many people incorrectly believe that we first encounter The Holy Spirit in Matthew 1:18: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.” If the question was “When was the first appearance of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament”, that would be the correct answer. But we actually meet the Holy Spirit in Genesis 1:2 “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was[a] on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters”. He is a co-equal part of the Trinity; He is called God’s Spirit to show He is the same as God.

As Christians, we are taught to pray to the Father, through the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit. While many of us forget that our prayers are powered by The Holy Spirit, by praying this way, it shows us that the Three Persons of the Godhead are one, and are co-equal. God uses progressive revelation to show us who the Holy Spirit is. By using the Old Testament alone, there are some who might question whether or not the Holy Spirit is actually a Person. This is cleared up completely in the New Testament, as The Holy Spirit is referred to as Ekeinos the Greek word for “He” 17 times. Matthew 12:31-32 further clarifies the Personhood of the Holy Spirit when it states. 31 Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come”. No one can sin against an “It”.

The Holy Spirit chose to manifest Himself slightly differently before and after our Lord Jesus died and was resurrected. Just as our Lord Jesus is, was, and will always be the “Logos (Word)”, He did not incarnate during the Old Testament times. While Jesus did interact with Adam, Cain, Abraham, Moses, and others directly, He was usually referred to as The Angel of the Lord during those encounters. The Holy Spirit decided to interact, before Jesus’ resurrection, by inspiring, assisting and empowering those that He chose, while not indwelling any of the Old Testament saints..

The fact that the Holy Spirit chose to interact with humans in this way amazes me. We know that God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow; yet He still chooses to interact with us in different ways, in different dispensations. Changing how one does something does not change who one is. God, like His created beings (humans) has the freedom to change His methods whenever He chooses. Look at the different ways the Lord Jesus chose to heal blindness in the New Testament. He didn’t use the same method twice. In the Old Testament dispensation, The Holy Spirit came upon those He chose to interact with. He came upon Moses, Joshua, Samson and the other Judges. He came upon Samuel and stayed with David for a considerable amount of time. David asks in Psalm 139:7, “Where can I go from Thy Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Thy Presence” David also prayed in Psalm 51:11 “Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me”

In Hebrew, the Holy Spirit is actually called Ruach HaKodesh. HaKodesh is easy to translate. It means “The Holy”. Ruach, however, can be translated among other things as wind, spirit, or breath. So in English, we call the part of God that resides in all believers (in our current dispensation) The Holy Spirit. A while ago, I was in my car and the wind was really kicking up. I saw the clouds moving through the sky very quickly; something we don’t really get to see very often. Usually the sky is calm and the clouds are moving slowly or it is too overcast to see any movement. At that moment, I realized that a storm was coming and the strong wind moving the clouds reminded me of how quickly The Holy Spirit can move in our lives. He usually is gentle and caring and doesn’t rush us, but when a storm is coming, He may move more quickly and powerfully than we can imagine.

We usually look at the approaching storm and fret and worry. We forget that the Creator of the Universe, the One who allows and forms the storms of our lives, is also the One residing within us. He is there to be our anchor, our help, and our hiding place. I don’t like storms, neither the physical nor spiritual kind. I prefer to get out of the rain, because I don’t like getting wet and windblown. While I would love to get out of the spiritual storms in my life, I’m glad the Lord allows them. If He didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to grow in Him and learn to depend on Him. For without His Guidance, His Grace, and His Help, I would surely be lost in the midst of the storm.

I started looking at the Old Testament Saints. The Holy Spirit had an unique relationship with Adam. According to George Smeaton, Adam was filled with the Spirit until he sinned. Based on the glimpses we are shown in Scripture between God and Adam, I believe it was a pre-incarnate Jesus who interacted with Adam and Eve, both before and after that first sin, As for Abraham, Scripture points to the interactions between God and Abraham and even God and Hagar as with a pre-incarnate Jesus, as God is referred to either as LORD, or The Angel of the Lord, both titles point to Jesus. The Holy Spirit was most likely involved in Abraham’s story, when He came as a dream to Abimelech when Abraham was trying to pass off Sarah as his sister.

The Holy Spirit empowered Moses to do what needed to be done, in Egypt, Sinai and the wilderness. The Holy Spirit also inspired him to write the Torah. I don’t see The Holy Spirit communicating verbally with the Old Testament saints. I believe that Moses spoke to Jesus, or quite possibly the Father on top of Mt Sinai. A pre-incarnate Jesus came to Samson’s parents and spoke to them. Judges 13:20-21 states “20 it happened as the flame went up toward heaven from the altar—the Angel of the Lord ascended in the flame of the altar! When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground. 21 When the Angel of the Lord appeared no more to Manoah and his wife, then Manoah knew that He was the Angel of the Lord”. In the New Testament, God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary to tell her The Holy Spirit would come upon her and that she would bear a child. Luke 1:26-35 tells us this story:

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”29 But when she saw him,[d] she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.  

I believe that these show that the Holy Spirit chose not to “talk” to us directly before Jesus resurrection.

2nd Timothy 3:16(a) tells us “16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God…”,  from this we know that it was the Holy Spirit  who inspired Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, David, Luke, Matthew, Peter, Paul, and the other authors of the Old and New Testaments. We are blessed to be able to read Books where words of God are written. As the Inspiration for the Bible’s Authors, The Spirit has been pointing us to Jesus, since Scripture has been put to parchment.

We find many references to Him in the Old Testament. Some of these include chapter 33 verse 4, of Job, where Elihu tells us “The Spirit of God has made me, And the breath of the Almighty gives me life”. Genesis 6:3 tells usAnd the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive[a] with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” Numbers 27:18 tells us: 18 And the Lord said to Moses: “Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him;”.  Scripture tells us that the Judges were also inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit. While his parents were visited by a Christophany, Samson himself was empowered by the Holy Spirit. Judges 14:6 tells us this about Sampson: And the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion apart as one would have torn apart a young goat, though he had nothing in his hand. But he did not tell his father or his mother what he had done.”

We know that the Spirit was with Samuel and also with David. While David wanted the Spirit of the Lord to remain with him, The Spirit probably left David, when David sinned. He was able to leave, because He wasn’t indwelling David. As God, the Spirit cannot abide sin, yet in New Testament believers, He resides within us, giving us additional strength to do the Lord’s bidding. As I write this, it is hard to think that the Holy Spirit has to live with my sin, until I repent, even if it is only for the short periods of time between my sin and my repentance. I need to be more mindful of His Presence

So what changed after Jesus died and rose again? He sent us the Helper, the part of God that would reside in us, teaching us, helping us and convicting us when we do wrong. He has always convicted believers and unbelievers of their sins. This is consistent throughout both the Old and New Testaments. Once Jesus had risen, He told the Apostles in John 20:21-2221 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” While the Apostles received The Holy Spirit before Pentecost, they were baptized with the Holy Spirit on that day. Since then, the two events can be simultaneous, or baptism can be prayed for at a later date. Acts  2 verses 1-4 tells us: When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord[a] in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance

Acts 10:44-46 shows The Holy Spirit falling for the first time on the Gentiles. “44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God”.        These are the only two times that speaking in tongues were a sign that the Holy Spirit was poured out onto someone in the New Testament.

Another Gentile who received the Lord was the Eunuch from Ethiopia. We see his story In Acts 8 verses 26-29.26Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, “Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is desert. 27 So he arose and went. And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, 28 was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go near and overtake this chariot, and 34-38 “34 So the eunuch answered Philip and said, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. 36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” 37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Here we see The Holy Spirit speak to someone for the first time and we also see someone being converted without speaking in tongues.

The Spirit is very active in the Book of Acts. In Chapter 5, we see the extreme punishment that can be given for lying to the Holy Spirit.  “But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things

In Chapter 16 of the Book of Acts, verses 6&7 tell us that Paul and his companions were redirected by The Holy Spirit. “Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit[a] did not permit them”

We are blessed to be living in a time when the Holy Spirit is alive and active. When we ask Him, He will direct us onto the paths we are meant to travel. We can depend on His Strength to get us through even the most difficult situations, as long as we are following God’s will for our lives. An example of this can be seen when the Apostle Paul asks for his thorn in the flesh to be removed. God answers him thusly in 2nd Corinthians 12:7-9 “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

I’m not sure who “My” is in the verse cited above. It really doesn’t matter. What I have to remember, as do many others, is that The Holy Spirit always points us to Jesus and Jesus always points us to the Father, so the “My” could be any of the three Persons, or all of them.

 

 

 

Works Cited

Bible Gateway, New King James Version, Holy Bible. https://www.biblegateway.com, accessed 08/15-08/22

Class Notes and PowerPoint accessed 08/15-08/22

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A character Study of Joseph (Jacob’s son)

Although we meet Joseph when he is a baby, we start to learn about him when he is 17. We know that Rachel, his mother, has died and that he is Israel’s (Jacob’s) favorite son. The first we hear of him is in Genesis 37:2, where we are told that Joseph felt the need to bring a “bad report of his brothers” to Jacob while they were tending the flock. This did not endear him to them. They hated him and would not listen to anything he said. While his brothers were getting angrier and angrier at him, his father Israel loved him so much that he made Joseph a special coat of many colors. This did nothing to help his relationship with his brothers. The Lord then sent Joseph two dreams. He shared both with his brothers and the second with his father. Jacob rebuked him by saying in Genesis 37:10b and 11”   10 …….‘What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you’” 11 And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind.”

Doing research online and in my study bible, I found that most commentators think that Joseph, at this point in his life, was protected by his father and was rather naïve. Upon reading these verses originally, I felt that Joseph was full of himself and extremely prideful. He was his father’s favorite, even though Rachel had also given Benjamin to Jacob. The NKJV Life Application Bible has an article on Joseph on page 75. The article states:

“As a youngster, Joseph was overconfident. His natural self-assurance, increased by being Jacob’s favorite son and by knowing of God’s designs on his life, was unbearable to his 10 older brothers, who eventually conspired against him. But this self –assurance, molded by pain and combined with a personal knowledge of God, allowed him to survive and prospe where most would have failed. He added quiet wisdom to his confidence and won the hearts of everyone he met—Potiphar, the keeper of the prison, other prisoners, the king, and after many years, even those 10 brothers.”

To be rid of their annoying brother, his older brothers sold him as a slave. He ended up in the house of Potiphar. Scripture tell us in Chapter 39:2a “The Lord was with Joseph and he was a successful man.” Joseph used this time to allow the Lord to start working in his life. Whether he was a spoiled brat or a naïve teen, he saw that the Lord was with him and allowed the Lord to start changing him. Potiphar also saw that the Lord was with Joseph and gave him charge of his house. Joseph was also developing a very strict sense of right and wrong. Scripture doesn’t tell us if he learned it as a youth, or if God impressed it upon him in Egypt. When Potiphar’s wife repeatedly tried to seduce him, he repeatedly refused her. One day, despite his protests, she was able to frame him for being with her. Potiphar was so angry that he immediately threw Joseph into prison.

Verses 21 and 22 tell us “But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. 22 And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph’s hand all the prisoners who were in the prison; whatever they did there, it was his doing.”At both Potiphar’s house and in the prison, Joseph chose to work as if working unto the Lord. We have no indication that he was angry with Potiphar or his wife. The keeper of the prison also put most of the control of the prison under Joseph and trusted him, because the keeper knew that God was with Joseph.

At one point of Joseph’s stay in prison, both Pharaoh’s chief butler and chief baker were thrown in prison. Each had a dream and the next morning Joseph saw them and saw that they were sad. Chapter 40 verses 7 and 8 state: So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in the custody of his lord’s house, saying, ‘Why do you look so sad today?’ And they said to him, ‘We each have had a dream, and there is no interpreter of it’ So Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell them to me, please.’”. Joseph was becoming more and more aware that God was in control. He interpreted the two dreams and then asked the butler to remember him to Pharaoh, which he forgot to do. Again, there is no record that Joseph was angry or upset. He was still allowing the Lord to work in and through him.

Two years later, Pharaoh had two dreams that no one could interpret. This is when the butler finally remembered Joseph. Joseph was brought before Pharaoh and asked to interpret his dreams. In Chapter 41 verse 16 Joseph tells Pharaoh “16 So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” Joseph, through the power of the Holy Spirit tells Pharaoh what his dreams mean and that he needs to appoint someone he can trust to store up supplies for the seven lean years that will be coming. Pharaoh appointed Joseph as the man he could trust, because he recognized that God was with Joseph. Scripture tells us that Joseph was 30 when this happened, so that means he spent 13 years allowing the Lord change him into the person the Lord needed him to be.

The famine that plagued Egypt was not contained only in Egypt. Canaan, where Joseph’s family still dwelt was also afflicted by the famine. Jacob sends his 10 older sons to Egypt to buy grain. Joseph, as Governor, was responsible for selling all the grain, to make sure that it was fairly given out. This meant that Joseph’s brothers had to meet with him to get the grain. He recognized them, but they didn’t recognize him. Joseph decided to test his brothers to see if they had changed in the intervening years. He made them promise to bring Benjamin and kept Simeon as ransom. Jacob did not want to let Benjamin go, but Rueben and Judah both said they would take responsibility for Benjamin. The first thing they did when they saw Joseph was confess that they found the money they had brought to pay for the first portion of grain, back in their sacks. Joseph continues to test them by putting his cup in Benjamin’s pack. As punishment, Joseph was going to have Benjamin stay with him as his slave, but Judah pleaded with Joseph to let Benjamin go and let him be his slave instead. This was a true turn-around for Judah who had been the one to instigate his brothers to sell Joseph in the first place.

At this point, Joseph knows that his brothers have changed and he reveals himself. Scripture tells us in Chapter 45 verses “So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.” It also appears that the dreams that the Lord sent Joseph when he was 17 came true. The Lord’s Word is Truth,

Jacob decided to elevate Ephraim over Menasseh when he blessed them. Due to his heightened sense of right and wrong, Joseph didn’t think this was right. He should have known, because the Lord chose his grandfather Isaac, who was not the first born and his father Israel, also not the first born, to fulfill some of His promises to Abraham.

The Lord used Joseph mightily and during all the circumstances that one would judge as being negative in a worldly way, God grew Joseph to become the man He needed him to be during the crisis in Egypt. This was the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s prophesy to Abram in Genesis 15:13 13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.

Works Cited

Bible Gateway, New King James Version, Holy Bible. https://www.biblegateway.com, accessed 7/08-7/10/17

ARTICLE ON JOSEPH on page 75 in the “ Life Application Study Bible – New King James Version”. Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, Wheaton, IL 1989, 1996 (Notes). Print.

What William Alan Believed about God

My husband Bill went home to be with the Lord on Saturday, July 18, 2009. He didn’t plan it. He drowned and the Lord took him home. I implore you, especially if you don’t believe in the Lord Jesus, to read this entire post, not for my sake, but for yours and to honor his memory. I ask that you read what Bill believed with an open mind.

Bill believed that the world had a Creator and that the Creator was God. He believed that no matter what happened to him, God would be there. He believed that when he died, he would have the privilege of spending eternity with God, in heaven. He believed that Jesus Christ (or to my Jewish friends and family, Y’shua HaMaschiach) was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, received a horrible beating and died a horrible death (as predicted by the Hebrew Prophet Isaiah in Chapter 53, written between 650 & 700 years before Jesus birth). The Bible says that the wages of sin is death, and Bill believed that Jesus took our sin upon Himself and paid the ultimate price (death). After 3 days, He rose from the dead, the first of the resurrected, which is a very Jewish belief, btw. As the Bible teaches, Bill believed that by his faith that Jesus’ death and resurrection were true, and by repenting and turning away from his sins, he would be saved, that is, spend eternity in Heaven and not Hell. Millions of people around the world, including me, believe this also.

But you say, I see no evidence of God. I can’t see, hear, smell, touch, or taste Him. If a deaf person can’t hear a baby cry, does that mean the baby isn’t making crying sounds. If a blind person can’t see a beautiful sunset, does that mean it isn’t beautiful. You get the idea. Lots of folks believe in many things that they can’t verify with their senses. Here’s a partial list: UFO’s, life on other planets, reincarnation, ghosts and psychic predictions. Why then do many people refuse to believe in the possibility of a Creator? Maybe you feel that you’re not good enough. God will meet you where you are. Maybe you feel that you don’t want someone telling you what to do. Guess what, if God is real, then you’re not wanting someone to tell you what to do is irrelevant, because He already is in control of your life. Maybe it’s against the religious tradition you’ve been taught all your life. How many things have you realized that your parents and elders were wrong about, especially if they taught you things that they were taught, but didn’t necessarily believe?

Why am I telling you this? I want each and every one of my friends and family to spend eternity with the Lord Jesus, in heaven. I am also being selfish, because I want to spend eternity with you also. Everyone will live forever in eternity, the only question is, will you be in heaven with God, Bill and me, or in hell with everyone else who chose not to have a relationship with Jesus. I know some of you might “unfriend” me because of this post, but I know that you’re really not rejecting me, but the One who I love and worship. I will still love you and miss you if you unfriend me, but I can be silent no longer. Remember, tomorrow is not promised to anyone. Bill was drinking coffee on the morning he died, not thinking anything extraordinary would happen.

If you’ve read this far, I thank you and ask that you search out the truth yourself. Don’t just take my word for it.

The Relationship between Faith and Obedience

We first meet a man named Abram in Genesis 11, where we are told in verses 31& 32::

31 And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there. 32 So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran.

We are not told why Terah left Ur, nor why he took Abram, Sarai and Lot with him. We are also not told why they stopped in Haran, and didn’t continue on to Canaan.

Chapter 12 begins with the Lord speaking directly to Abram, who at this point is 75 years old. Verses 1-8 tell us:

Now the Lord had said to Abram:“Get out of your country, From your family
And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.  Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan. Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh.[a] And the Canaanites were then in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South.[b
]

Abram was obedient to the Lord. We do not know how the Lord chose to communicate to Abram, before verse 7 of Chapter 12, We also do not know what form He took when He appeared to Abram in the same verse; for unlike Moses, whose first encounter with God is documented, in Exodus 3:2 “And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed” Scripture tells us nothing of Abram’s first encounter with the Lord.

Abram obeyed God, even though he had no experiential knowledge that following God was the right thing to do. This is what faith is really all about. God made some promises to Abram that would not be fulfilled in Abram’s lifetime. Hebrews 11:8-10 tells us that. . 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

But God also made some promises to Abram that were fulfilled in Abram’s lifetime, which showed Abram that being obedient through faith would bring the blessing that the Lord spoke of. For the next 24 years, Abram lived his life, didn’t always look to the Lord for answers, and sometimes got himself into trouble with God and others. He is a good example of how many Christians live their lives, because most of us do the same thing.

While the Lord interacted with Abram during this time, we are now going to look at a promise that the Lord made, that was partially fulfilled in Abram’s lifetime. . Looking at Chapter 17 of Genesis, we find that God changes Abram’s name to Abraham. Verses 5 and 6 tell us 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you”. The Lord also changed Sarai’s name to Sarah. Verses 15and 16 state:” 15 Then God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16 And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.”

A year later, God fulfilled His promise to Abraham and Sarah as we see in Chapter 21, verses 1-3: “ 1And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him—whom Sarah bore to him—Isaac.”

In Chapter 22, God decides to test Abraham. Verses 1-3 tells us: “1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”2 Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Abraham and Isaac continued alone to Mount Moriah. Verse 9 picks up the story:

Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.

10 And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” So he said, “Here I am.” 12 And He said, “Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”

Abraham trusted God. He knew he would be returning from the mountain with Isaac. He didn’t know how God was going to accomplish this, but he had faith in God, for the Lord had promised Abraham that Isaac was the son of promise.

What does this teach us? By being obedient to the Lord and trusting Him with our lives and the decisions we need to make, He always has the best ready for us. It may not be what we want, but it is always exactly what we need. Having faith in what the Lord would have us do, means that we will be obedient to His will. He states in 1st Samuel 15:22  22 So Samuel said“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
Additionally, Psalms 25:10 states: All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies”. We can learn from Abraham that obedience and faith are the best way to have a relationship with God. Even though Abraham made many mistakes in his relationship with God, he believed in Him. Genesis Chapter 15, verse 6 says: “And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.” I hope the someday, the same thing can be said about me.

Works Cited

Bible Gateway, New King James Version, Holy Bible. https://www.biblegateway.com, accessed 6/13-6/19/17

The Role of Israel In The Book Of Romans

Many casual readers of Romans believe that Paul’s writing of chapters 9, 10, and 11 is parenthetical, in the Book of Romans; just as Tamar’s story is parenthetical in Genesis 38. While Tamar’s story is indeed parenthetical, Paul’s discussion of the Jews is not. These are the same people who assume that these 3 chapters in Romans are the only time Paul discusses the Jews in the Book of Romans. Galatians 3:28 states: 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” While it is true that both Jews and Gentiles are equal before Christ, there are lessons that can be learned by looking at Israel’s relationship with God that are applicable to both.
The beginning of chapter 2 appears to be a continuation of Chapter 1, which speaks of the Gentiles and their guilt. Warren W. Wiersbe, however, in his book, BE RIGHT (A NEW TESTAMENT STUDY – ROMANS), tells us on page 25: “Bible scholars do not agree on whom Paul was addressing in Romans 2:1-6”. Further down the same page he states: “But it seems to me that Paul was addressing his Jewish readers in this section. To begin with his discussion of the Law in 2:12-16 would have been more meaningful to a Jew than a Gentile. And in 2:17, he openly addressed his reader as ‘“a Jew”’.
Paul then admonishes the Jews by saying that they teach the Law, but asks if they follow it. Chapter 2:21-24 states:
21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal? 22 You who say, “Do not commit adultery,” do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law? 24 For “the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you,” as it is written.
Paul goes on to tell us in verses 28-29: “28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.” In Chuck Smith’s book, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO GRACE, he tells us on page 19 that “The Jews were trusting in the Mosaic ritual of circumcision for their salvation, but their disobedience of the spirit of the Law invalidated the ritual.”
Paul starts Chapter 3 by stating “What advantage then has the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? 2 Much in every way! Paul then goes on to explain why this wasn’t enough.
Paul summed up the argument and refuted those Jews who tried to debate him. They raised three questions. (1) “What advantage is it to be a Jew?” Reply: Every advantage, especially possessing the Word of God. (2) “Will Jewish unbelief cancel God’s faithfulness?” Reply: Absolutely not–it establishes it. (3) “If our sin commends His righteousness, how can He judge us?” Reply: We do not do evil that good may come of it. God judges the world righteously. (Wiersbe pg 29-30)
Scripture tells us that all have sinned and Paul then goes on to quote the Old Testament to show that this is not just a First Century problem.
Although not speaking directly of Israel, Paul uses the Old Testament figures of Abraham and David to show that we are justified by faith, not by works. Abraham is one of the most highly revered figures in Judaism, and considered the father of the Jewish people. Chapter 4 starts out in verses 1-4 to state:
What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him for righteousness” 4Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt.
Paul also quotes Psalm 32:1-2 to show that David understood that righteousness is by faith, not by works.
As I previously stated, many Christians consider Romans 9, 10 and 11 to be parenthetical to the Book. They think that Paul is speaking only to the Jewish Believers in Rome. Without further study, it might appear that way. While Paul is speaking to the Jews, it is not just for the benefit of the Jews but also the Gentiles.
Paul starts out with a very interesting comment in Romans 9:1-5:
I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen[a] according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises; 5 of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
Paul is mirroring Moses’ intercession after the Israelites built the golden calf in Exodus 32:32 “32Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” I have to admit that on a trip to Israel in 2001, I was able to pray the same prayer as Paul. It’s a deep prayer, but I made it in the knowledge that no one can be “snatched” out of Jesus’ hand, according to John 10:28:” 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” I’m not sure that Paul had that same assurance when that he prayed his prayer.
When Romans was written, Israel has corporately rejected God.
At this point in his letter Paul explains that God has removed the national privileges and blessings from Israel. The Jews had enjoyed a most-favored-nation status with God. However, by rejecting the righteousness proved for them through Jesus, the Messiah, the “natural branch” of Israel has been cut off for a time.
In matters of salvation, Israel no longer retains a privileged status. Jew and Gentile alike must come to Jesus, for He is God’s answer to every man’s sin. “All have sinned, and come sort of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption this is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24 – Smith pg 77)
Paul goes on to explain that not all the children of Abraham will be considered Israel. The line goes through his son Isaac and his grandson Jacob (Israel). God uses Chapter 9 to show the different says that Israel has rejected Him. First they rejected Christ, then God’s purpose and justice. He concludes Chapter 9 thusly:
30 What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; 31 but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness.[n] 32 Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law.[o] For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. 33 As it is written:
“Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense,
And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”
Chapter 10 reiterates Paul’s desire that all of Israel should be saved and
one of the reasons that Israel has rejected God.
Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel[a] is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Paul was trying to show his beloved Israel that Christ was the only way to God. Using the Law and being circumcised were never enough to impute righteousness on anyone. Only through Christ, or for the Old Testament Saints, the belief that He was coming, can one obtain righteousness and salvation
This brings us to chapter 11. Israel’s rejection was not total. There was, and still is a remnant that remained true to God. “To be sure, there was a faithful remnant in the nation of that looked for His arrival such as Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38); but the majority of the people were not ready when He came. (Wiersbe pg 113)” The same remnant has always existed, but until the early 20th century, those who professed Christ as savior were at times required to deny their Jewish heritage Today it is possible to “be Jewish” and accept Jesus as Messiah.
Paul uses chapter 11 to explain his lineage and proclaim that while Jewish, he is accepting of Jesus as Messiah. In verses 1-6 Paul states:
I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, 3 “LORD, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life”?[a] 4 But what does the divine response say to him? “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”[b] 5 Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. 6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace.[c] But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.
This is also the chapter where Paul tells us that Israel’s rejection is not final.
God will restore the Jews to His love and favor when He opens their eyes and they receive Christ. The fullness of the glorious kingdom of God will then come. Zachariah testified to this day, saying, “And one shall say to him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends” (Zechariah 13:6)…..One day the Jews will realize their blindness and folly. They’ll accept Jesus Christ, and the glorious national restoration of these people will bring in the Kingdom Age (Smith pg 100).
Paul uses Romans to highlight the blessings and follies of Israel as they tried to follow the Lord. He successfully shows that only reliance on the Lord, through faith, brings salvation. By showing what the Jews did correctly and incorrectly, he educated not only the Jews who wanted to believe in Messiah Y’shua (Jesus), but also the Gentiles.

Works Cited

Smith, Chuck, Pastor. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO GRACE Costa Mesa CA The Word for Today 1981, Print.

Wiersbe, Warren W. BE RIGHT (A NEW TESTAMENT STUDY – ROMANS) Colorado Springs, CO, Cook Communications Ministries, 2004, Print

Bible Gateway, New King James Version, Holy Bible. https://www.biblegateway.com, accessed 3/10-3/14/17