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Tag Archives: God

Cast Out The Bondwoman And Her Son

“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.” (Genesis 21:9-10)

In Genesis 21:6, we are told that Sarah laughed for joy at the birth of her son Isaac. The grace and gifts of God bring joy and laughter to the grateful hearts of those who believe God and gladly receive what He has given them. But in verse 9, we see a different kind of laughter. This laughter is the laughter of mockery; it is the laughter of disdain for what God has done in the lives of those who believe Him coming from the mouths of those who do not. It is the ridicule that comes from the heart which has only known the fruits of its own efforts and never the gracious fruits that come from God alone. This is the contempt which the man who lives in the flesh holds for the man who walks after the Spirit of God.

Before this particular incident, we have not been told very much about the nature and character of the young man Ishmael, whom Abraham became the father of by Hagar the servant woman. But this solitary verse truly speaks volumes. He complied with his father’s wishes and became circumcised a few years before this (Genesis 17:26) in accordance with the command of God. He went through the motions of religious observance, paying lip-service to the commandments of God, yet we see now that his heart was far from Him. The unrepentant, unregenerate man will very often perform the ceremonies and rituals which he feels make him appear to be religious; yet when he is confronted with the genuineness of God’s unmerited grace, he scoffs at it and mocks the one who receives it.

The man of the flesh seeks to come to God through his own efforts. He has no realization, no concept of the unearned grace which alone can serve as the force which makes a person acceptable to God. Ishmael looked upon the birth of Isaac as something foolish and disdainful much as those who reject Christ see the Cross as something foolish and meaningless (1 Corinthians 1:18). Both will revere and regard their own efforts and their own self-perceived merits as something of great importance, all the while mocking and ridiculing the grace of God which alone has the power to save.

Upon witnessing the spectacle that Ishmael is putting on during what should be a very joyous occasion, Sarah demands that Abraham send away the young man and his mother. This slave woman’s son shall not be heir with my son! she proclaims. So the enmity between Ishmael and Isaac, between Sarah and Hagar, precludes any accommodation between the two families. They simply cannot peacefully co-exist. The Apostle Paul will use this whole incident as an illustration of the incompatibility between living under Law and living under Grace (Galatians 4:21-31). These two are wholly irreconcilable as well. One must choose whether they will live under Law or live under Grace.

“Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” (Galatians 4:30)

In light of this clear imperative, it is puzzling that there are those who name the name of Christ who claim to live under Grace yet still attempt to fulfill the works of Law. Often, such claim that God provides Grace but still expects us to live under Law. Whether it be some observance of Old Testament dietary regulations or the keeping of Sabbath days, they claim that the Christian is in essence under a mixture of Law and Grace. But we see that Ishmael was cast out completely; he did not remain close by, he did not pay occasional visits to the family. Ishmael, representing the Law, was entirely put away once the son of Grace, the heir of promise came. There was no room for both within the household of Abraham, neither is there room for both in the household of God. The Law has served its purpose in the plans of God (Galatians 3:24-25), it holds no place anymore for those who have received the Son of Promise, Jesus Christ. The self-effort of ritual, religious motion, and attempted observance of Law will never make anyone acceptable to God, nor can it ever bring Salvation. Let us cast out the son of the bondwoman and place our faith firmly in God’s Grace, lest we, too, be found mocking.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published February 17, 2010]

All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

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Seeing Jesus In The Life Of Isaac – Part 1

As we come in our study of Genesis to the birth of Isaac, it is worth considering the great parallels between the life of Isaac and the life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Today and tomorrow we will look at some of them:

Sons Of Promise

First of all, both the birth of Isaac and the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ had been promised beforehand by God:

“And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him.” (Genesis 18:10)

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)

Announcements Were Questioned By Their Mothers

Both Isaac and Jesus were announced beforehand by God to their mothers, both of who at first questioned how their births could be possible:

“Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” (Genesis 18:12)

“Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34)

Miraculous Births

Both Isaac and Jesus were born miraculously in ways that were seemingly impossible:

“Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.” (Genesis 18:11)

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 1:18)

Born At The Appointed Time Of God

Isaac and Jesus were both born at a preset time ordered by God Himself:

“For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.” (Genesis 21:2)

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,” (Galatians 4:4)

Named Before Their Births By God

Isaac and Jesus both were given their names by God before they were ever born:

“And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.” (Genesis 17:19)

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

Beloved By Their Fathers

Both Isaac and Jesus are said to have been loved by their Fathers:

“And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” (Genesis 22:2)

“For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.” (John 5:20)

This in itself might not seem very significant until we consider that no parent in the Bible is said to have “loved” their child before Genesis 22:2 tells us that Abraham loved Isaac. In fact, the word “love” does not even appear in the Bible at all before this verse. It is, therefore, noteworthy that we are told specifically of Abraham’s affection toward Isaac.

Tomorrow we will look at more of the parallels between the life of Isaac and the life of the Lord Jesus Christ.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published February 15, 2010]

All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

God Is Reliable

“And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.” (Genesis 21:1)

Genesis 21:1 is a remarkable verse of Scripture. Two statements immediately jump out of the text:

“And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.” (emphasis added)

What a profound lesson in God’s reliability! God did exactly what He said He would do. Not only that, He did it at the precise time that He had set (v.2). All the way back in Genesis 13:16 God first made the promise that Abraham would have descendants as numerous as the dust of the Earth. Abraham did not even have one single child at the time, but God made this promise to him as if it was already a done deal (Romans 4:17). Despite Abraham and Sarah’s deception with Pharaoh and Abimilech in which Sarah’s purity could have been compromised (Gen. 12:13, 20:2), despite their scheme to bring about the child of promise from the womb of another (Gen. 16), despite Sarah’s laughter at the very notion that she could bring forth a child in her old age (18:12), God visited Sarah as He had said, and did unto her as He had spoken.

Regardless of how things may look to us, God will make good on every promise that He has ever made. He will do what He has said He will do.  No one is able to frustrate the plans of God, nor can anyone prevent His promises from coming to pass. God is reliable.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published February 12, 2010]

All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

Does The Bible Say That Homosexuality Is Sin?

“And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.” (Genesis 19:6-7)

To be completely honest, I must admit that this is really a post that I wish was not necessary to write. There are so many spiritual truths that can be explored in Genesis 19 that it is quite unfortunate that time should need to be spent on something that I believe is a peripheral issue. I do not believe that the purpose of what we are told in Genesis 19:4-11 is to establish that the practice of homosexuality is sinful, nor do I think that this was the only, or even primary, sin that the people of Sodom were guilty of. Paul writes to the Romans that homosexuality itself is but a step in the descending depravity of mankind apart from God, but lists it along with a myriad of other wicked behaviors in the indictment of humanity (Romans 1:27-32). I think this whole sordid incident is recorded in Genesis 19:4-11 to demonstrate the depth of immorality that the citizens of Sodom had fallen into.

I say that it is unfortunate that time should be spent discussing the matter of homosexuality in a Bible study because I find it incredibly puzzling that it would be necessary to demonstrate that sin is sin. No argument should be necessary, this ought to be a foregone conclusion. However, we have but to look at current events to realize that there is an attack being made today against God’s Word on the subject as people are twisting and misinterpreting the Bible to allege that no prohibition is ever really made: specifically or implicitly. I read in my local newspaper only a week or two ago about a “seminar” being hosted by a local church (of a major denomination, I might add) wherein the topic of being a homosexual Christian was to be discussed. Apparently, even a documentary celebrating prominent homosexual practitioners in church leadership was scheduled to be presented.

There have always been those who will do whatever they want, regardless of what God has to say about it. In fact, all of us were exactly that way before we came to faith in Christ. Until recently, there was no denial that the Word of God clearly condemned the practice of homosexuality. But now the effort is being made to cast a shadow of doubt and re-interpret the Scriptures in order to manufacture a Biblical support for this lifestyle. Therefore, since the purpose of this website is to look to God’s Word for answers, let us see what the Bible really does have to say on the subject:

Was The Sin Of The Sodomites Homosexuality Or The Desire To Commit Rape?

A major objection raised against this passage is the assertion that the only sin here is that the men of Sodom sought to force themselves on the two angelic visitors of Lot. Rape, they say, is the abomination, not consensual homosexuality. Yet in Genesis 19:4-5, there is no threat of force nor violence toward Lot and his visitors. Where are the men?…bring them out that we may know them, the townspeople say. Lot responds, “I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly” (v.7). Of course, the threats of violence do follow afterward, but at first it is merely their perverse lust that causes Lot to label their desires as wicked. At the risk of sounding crude, may I say that it seems that, if consensual homosexual practice was an acceptable and valid “orientation” (as those raising this objection suggest), why didn’t Lot ask the two angelic visitors if they wanted to go out to the men? If God indeed makes some people homosexual, how would Lot know that these two visitors were not made that way?

Is The Prohibition Against Homosexuality in Leviticus 18:22, And 20:13 Still Valid?

“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” (Leviticus 18:22)

“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)

A major objection to verses such as these is that they are found in the Old Testament. The argument is made that we are no longer living under the laws of the Old Testament. While it is true that in Christ we live under Grace and not Law (e.g., Romans 6:14), it is also true that sin was not redefined with the coming of the New Testament. The Lord Jesus said that He did not come to do away with the Law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17-18). If anything, the Lord Jesus’ definition of sin is even more restrictive than the Law of Moses because it focuses not only on actions, but thoughts and attitudes (e.g., Matthew 5:27-28).

Admittedly, dietary laws and regulations were changed (Acts 10:13-15), and some laws and penalties were specific to the nation of Israel. We are not living in a Theocracy today such as ancient Israel was, so God does not expect us to put offenders to death for their sins. With this in mind, the only changes that we can be safe in asserting are those specifically given. It is fallacious to assume that Jesus wiped the slate of the Old Testament clean and repealed every definition of sin when He came to Earth. For the most part, if it was sin in the Old Testament, then it is still sin in the New. Additionally, homosexuality is still specifically called sin in the New Testament, anyway, as we will see in a moment.

But Jesus “Hung Out” With Sinners, He Was All About Love, Wouldn’t He Be All Right With Homosexuality?

That Jesus associated with sinners is absolutely irrefutable. If He hadn’t, then we would all be in trouble because we are all sinners! But what was His attitude toward sin? Mark 2:17 tells us that Jesus stated that He came to call sinners (and I say again, we are all sinners) to repentance. That means that He called all of us to turn from our sins and turn to Him. He did associate with prostitutes, tax collectors, and adulterers, but He didn’t leave them that way! And He never approved of what they did. In fact, His admonition was to “go and sin no more” (e.g., John 5:14, 8:11). The Apostle Matthew was a crooked tax collector before Jesus called him to follow Him. What did he do when Jesus called him? “He left all, rose up, and followed Him” (Luke 5:28, emphasis added). You cannot say that Jesus approved of crooked, governmental endorsed extortion because He called Matthew to follow Him. Matthew left that behind, he repented of it when he came to Christ.

“For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:… I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:22,30)

The Lord Jesus Christ came to Earth and offered Himself as the Savior of mankind. Whoever puts their faith in Him will be saved. He came not to pass judgment in His earthly life, but He will be the Judge of those who reject Him when He returns.

Is Romans 1:27 Really Talking About Homosexuality?

Many of the objections concerning New Testament references to homosexuality center on the idea that the language is not more specific or explicit. Some have even asked why the word “homosexual” or something like it does not appear in the text. Indeed, euphemistic language is sometimes employed because it is naturally assumed that the reader will understand what is being referred to. Some of the more modern translations do in fact forego this and specifically use more contemporary terminology:

“Men behaved in the same way. They stopped wanting to have sex with women and had strong desires for sex with other men. They did shameful things with each other, and what has happened to them is punishment for their foolish deeds.” (Romans 1:27 CEV)

I do not wish to go into etymology at great lengths, but examining the original Greek text confirms that homosexual acts are being referred to. “Leaving the natural use” refers to that which goes against nature (phusikos), that which is “physically” perverse and abnormal. It is difficult for me to understand how someone can miss the meaning of even the King James Version language: “burned in their lust one toward another; men with men”, but somehow there are those who apparently misunderstand this.

So Where Besides Romans Does The New Testament Refer To Homosexuality?

Two other passages refer to homosexuality: 1 Corinthians 6:9 and 1 Timothy 1:10. Again, the objections are raised about what specifically is being referred to in these. “Effeminate” (found in the KJV and NASB) is translated from a word that literally means anyone who is sexually perverted and was commonly used to refer to young men who were homosexual prostitutes. The term translated as “abusers of themselves with mankind” (1 Cor. 6:9) and “them that defile themselves with mankind” (1 Tim. 1:10) literally means A man who has sexual intercourse with a man (arsenokoites). This was the commonly used Greek term to mean a homosexual. You really cannot get any more explicit than this.

Conclusion

A lot of groups that state they are Christian have placed an inordinate amount of attention on the sin of homosexuality. It has been singled out in recent years by those who seem more interested in the condemnation of those who practice homosexuality than in seeing them come to Christ in repentance. We should note that, while it is mentioned in Scripture, it is usually done so along with a list of other sins. It is usually included right alongside other sins of sexual perversion and unrighteousness, including adultery. Some people like to carry signs about God’s condemnation of the homosexual, but they don’t say a lot about God’s condemnation of the “swinger”, the “playboy”, the “wife-swapper”, and the adulterer. There is without question a secular, social stigma that goes along with homosexuality that compels people to want to view it as a much more grievous sin than those that are listed with it in Scripture. But if we may be frank, sin is sin. If we commit any sin, we have disobeyed God and are guilty of violating God’s law (James 2:10-11). Like any other sin, homosexuality can be forgiven when a person comes to Christ and repents.

We all have fleshly desires that we struggle with. We should never conclude that simply because we desire something, then that is the way God intended us to be. There are Christians who formerly struggled with homosexual urges, yet today they have come to genuine faith in Christ and they are not giving in to those desires. My intention for writing this is not to single out homosexuality as some type of unusually abhorrent sin nor is my purpose to persecute homosexuals. I acknowledge that there are a lot of practicing homosexuals who couldn’t care less what God has to say about the matter and, frankly, that is between them and God. But my purpose here is to stand up for what the Word of God does have to say about the subject and warn those who are erroneously imagining that the Bible endorses their sinful practices. Along with all other sinful behaviors, the Bible condemns homosexuality. Regardless of whatever sin we struggle with, let us turn to Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and put our faith in Him for forgiveness. Let us look honestly at what the Lord God has said through His Word and change our ways to fit what it tells us, not change what it says to fit our ways.

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published January 21, 2010]

All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible

***Contemporary English Version (CEV)Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

Shall Not The Judge Of All The Earth Do Right?

“That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25)

In verse 25, we have the second profound rhetorical question of Genesis 18: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Last time, the Lord posed the question: Is anything too hard for the Lord? Now, Abraham poses this one. I call them both rhetorical questions, those which are asked only to emphasize, not to gain new information. They are questions that need no answers, for the answers to them are already known and settled. Or are they?

For a great many skeptics of the Bible, this question of the Judge of all the earth doing right is something known and already settled, too. But in their viewpoint, the answer is a resounding No! One of the most common objections to the veracity of the Bible being raised in our generation (and it does really go back much farther) is what has been called the “character assassination” of God. Entire books have been penned by prominent atheistic philosophers and scientists ridiculing what they call the cruel, vindictive, and capricious nature of God. They take issue with the justice of God’s judgments as described in the Bible (particularly the Old Testament) and have even accused God of being immoral in His actions.

But it seems that Abraham put a little more trust in God’s ability to distinguish between right and wrong. Apparently, Abraham, having a very real and intimate knowledge of God, reached a different conclusion than those who prefer to smugly dissect the Word of God and cherry-pick a verse here and there that they personally find distasteful. Maybe Abraham learned a great deal more about the God of the Universe through his personal encounters with Him in the wilderness of Canaan than we are able to ascertain in a musty library 30 to 40 centuries later? At any rate, Abraham was convinced enough of God’s justice that he is emboldened to raise the question of whether or not God will arbitrarily destroy the righteous and the wicked when He judges Sodom and Gomorrah.

“And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?” (Genesis 18:23)

It’s worth noting that Abraham drew near before he posed any question about the Lord’s impending actions. Before any of us can hope to make any kind of intercession with God, we must be close to Him. God is simply not going to hear the prayers from a heart that is far from Him, save the prayer that seeks to come closer to Him. Abraham does not question the righteousness and justice of God, but “reminds” Him of it. Abraham is not trying to determine whether or not God will judge the righteous and the wicked, all he really has in mind is knowing whether or not his nephew, Lot, who lives in Sodom is among the righteous that will not perish. Thus he begins his countdown of asking if the Lord shall spare the city for the sake of 50, 45, 40, and so on, righteous people. I believe that he certainly had his doubts about whether or not Lot was really a saved man or not, and this prevented him from just coming right out and asking. As the numbers got lower and lower, I think he became more and more concerned.

“Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out: he is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: he will not afflict.” (Job 37:23)

Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Abraham knew that God will always do what is right and just. Job and his friends learned this lesson, too. We could probably use this very question as the summarizing phrase for the entire Book of Job, in fact. It might be easy to stand far back and look at God’s actions and decide whether or not we feel that what He has done is right or not. But if we do as Abraham did, if we draw near to God, if we get to know Him, we will see that the Judge of all the earth invariably does what is right.

“The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” (Psalm 19:9)

To Jesus Christ goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

[This post was originally published January 18, 2010]

All Scripture quotations in this post are taken from the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

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