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Abraham's nation

Query for the Month

of October 2003

Next up-date: November 1st 2003 (God willing).

Previous "Queries" are available. Click here to access.

Some perpetual questions ....

Is there really an immortal soul?

What does it mean to "be led by the Spirit"?

Do you know the difference between the "love" that is of Christianity
and the "love" that is of the world?
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Query:

Genesis 12:

1 Now the LORD had said to Abram, "Get you out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you: 2 and I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing: 3 and I will bless them that bless you, and curse him that curses you: and in you shall all families of the earth be blessed."

As an add-on to last month's query, we now have the question as to why God said to Abraham, "I will make of you a great nation."   What did He mean by that?


Answer:

As we saw last month, nations were invented by men, and were not in God's plan at all.  So why did He say to Abraham that He would make of him a great nation?

An omniscient God knew that it would not be long before Satan's deceptions would reach His people and He was giving him warning about it hoping that Abraham would say, “No thanks” as another man of God did later.

Judges 8:

22 Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, “Rule you over us, both you, and your son, and your son's son also: for you have delivered us from the hand of Midian.” 23 And Gideon said to them, “I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.”  

However, Abraham had his ideas and stuck with them, which led the people of God to eventually want a kingdom on earth.  The Son of God could accept a church, even though that was not what He wanted either, but a nation requires a king and a faith (patriotism) which was in direct opposition to all that heaven stands for.  But He ended up with a church AND a nation in one.

However, our God is a pragmatic Person, so He then explained how best to use the system Abraham and the Hebrews wanted.  He visited him one day and tried to show how His kingdom worked in the world.  Training children (angels etc.) takes up a great part of His time.

Genesis 18:

17 And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; 18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken of him.” 

So first of all, He endeavoured to separate Abraham from all constant contact with the pagan world.  We have to “be in the world” but we don’t have to be “of it.”  We need to be certain in our own minds that the concept of  “us” and “they” is necessary.

1 Kings 8:

53 For You did separate them from among all the people of the earth, to be your inheritance, as You spoke by the hand of Moses Your servant, when You brought our fathers out of Egypt, O LORD GOD.  

Luke 6:

22 Blessed are you, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.  

2 Corinthians 6:

15 And what concord has Christ with Belial [Satan]?  Or what part has he that believes with an infidel?  16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols?  For you are the temple of the living God; as God has said, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” 17 “Wherefore come out from among them, and be you separate,” says the LORD, “and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 and will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,” says the LORD Almighty.  

The next step was work, that dreaded word!

Among the Jews physical toil was not thought strange or degrading. After all, Adam had his in the Garden of Eden.  Through Abraham and Moses the Hebrews had been instructed to train their children to industrious habits, and it was regarded as a sin to allow the youth to grow up in ignorance of physical labour.  Even though a child was to be educated for a holy work, or an academic one, a knowledge of practical life was thought essential.  Every youth, whether his parents were rich or poor, was taught some trade.  Those parents who neglected to provide such a training for their children were looked upon as departing from the instruction of the LORD.  In accordance with this custom, Paul had early learned the trade of tent making. 

Acts 18:

1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth [in pagan Greece]; 2 and found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came to them. 3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. 

4 And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.

 Before he became a disciple of Christ, Paul had occupied a high position in the Jewish church and was not dependent upon manual labour for support. But afterward, when he had used all his means in furthering the cause of Christ, he resorted at times to his trade to gain a livelihood. Especially was this the case when he laboured in places where his motives might have been misunderstood.  Unlike many modern-day preachers, he wasn’t after money, but people.

Every child brought into the world is the property of Jesus Christ, and its guardians should educate it by precept and example to love and obey God.  But by far the largest number of parents have neglected their God-given work, by failing to educate and train their children, from the first dawning of reason, to know and love Christ.  With painstaking effort parents are to watch the opening, receptive mind and make everything in the home life secondary to the positive duty enjoined upon them by God – to train their children in the nurture and admonition of the LORD, which is what we should do while we live among the nations.  Ephesians 6:4.  This is what it means to be “the head and not the tail.” Deuteronomy 28:13.

Then He moved on to education.

When the minds of men and women are brought into communion with the mind of God, the finite with the Infinite, the effect on body and mind and spirit is beyond estimate.  In such communion is found the highest education.  It is God's own method of development.  "Acquaint now yourself with Him" (Job 22:21), is His message to us.  “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments: His praise endures for ever.” Psalm 111:110.

We have a good example in Paul choosing Timothy as his companion. Paul wrote to him, “When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in you also.” 2 Timothy 1:5. Those who had taught Timothy in his childhood were rewarded by seeing the son of their care linked in close fellowship with the great apostle.  

Timothy was a mere youth when he was chosen by God to be a teacher, but his principles had been so established by his early education that he was fitted to take his place as Paul's helper.  And though young, he bore his responsibilities with Christian meekness.

With true education we shall be the salt of the earth, even while living among the nations! 

Matthew 5:

13 You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted?  It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

14 You are [also] the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel [basket], but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  

 Then comes the great leveller.

 Trial is part of the education given in the school of Christ, to purify God's children from the dross of earthliness.  “Yes, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12.  It is because God is leading His children that trying experiences come to them.  Trials and obstacles are His chosen methods of discipline, and His appointed conditions of success.  He who reads the hearts of men knows their weaknesses better than they themselves can know them.  He sees that some have qualifications which, if rightly directed, could be used in the advancement of His work.  In His providence He brings these folk into different positions and varied circumstances, that they may discover the defects that are concealed from their own knowledge.  He gives them opportunity to overcome these defects and to fit themselves for service.  Often He permits the fires of affliction to burn, that they may be purified.

 

Conclusion:

It was not the choice of the Son of God for His people to be a nation or a church.  However, when they did take on both of those roles He taught them how to live in those conditions. 

 oooOooo


Who wants to add (or subtract!) from these thoughts? I won't argue as I have stated, but I will publish your Scriptures so that we may review all the words of God on the subject.
Next query. To be discussed from November 1st 2003.

Here is a  statement from The Natural History Reader in Evolution, page 97, by Niles Eldridge (Editor). Published by Columbia University Press 1987.  ISBN 0-231-06156-0.

 “If all organisms had been created in the Garden of Eden, later to be collected by Noah and subsequently released from Mt. Ararat, we might expect the greatest concentration of life to center round the Middle East, with life fanning out from there, becoming less dense and diverse the further we sample from this center of origin and dispersal. In any case, we would not expect to travel the world over and find highly localized flora [plants] and fauna [animals] that bear no particular resemblance to the denizens [the passengers] of the Ark.”

 I came upon this statement in that book so I asked the question,  “How do we, as believers in a creator God, answer such a thought?”

 

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