Posts Tagged ‘Covenant’

Genesis 32:9 – HOW TO HANDLE THE GREATEST CONFLICT OF ALL

Instructions in Diplomatic Integrity – Part 5

Jacob is preparing to come face to face with Esau. The meeting could be explosive. (see part 1-4).

So how does Jacob prepare for this confrontation? When you need urgent counsel, who do you talk to?

  1. TALK THINGS OVER WITH SOMEONE YOU TRUST
IN THE QUIET MOMENTS WHEN ARGUMENTS NO LONGER MATTER

Lifeline © Image created by Ross Cochrane.

“Then Jacob prayed, “O God…”” (Genesis 32:9 NLT).

Sure, you might want a human counselor, but when it comes to trusting someone, God is a great contact.

Jacob comes to God in prayer. This is crisis prayer but shows that God is becoming a more central figure in his life. In fact, this prayer is central to all that happens in this story. It leaves me to consider that if Jacob has a history of significant interactions with God, then prayer is a key factor to the outcomes of my own life today.

 

 

 

  1. LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE

Heritage4.jpg

Heritage © book created by Julie Cochrane. Photo by Ross Cochrane

“O God of my grandfather Abraham, and God of my father, Isaac—O Lord, You told me, ‘Return to your own land and to your relatives.’ And You promised me, ‘I will treat you kindly’” (Genesis 32:9 NLT). 

To be blessed by God and then murdered by his brother doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. When all we can see are the difficult circumstances, we miss out on seeing God’s past record of faithfulness. Prayer draws us back into the reality of God’s intentions.

Jacob is laying it out on the line with God in prayer. There is family history in his relationship with God. There is a covenant in place and so far it has all worked out. God has been faithful.

My wife has a wonderful heritage of faith extending back generations in her family, but any follower of Christ has become a part of the generational blessing and faithfulness of God over centuries and we have good reason to develop trust. We do so on the basis of a new covenant with God made through the death of Christ.

Hebrews 8:6-13 (NLT) says “But now Jesus, … mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises: “… I will put My laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be My people. … And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

From Genesis 28:12-15, it’s quite clear that God was with Jacob and would protect him wherever he went. God had big plans for Jacob and his sons. Jesus would eventually come from his line. If Esau wanted to escalate conflict, then he really didn’t have a chance.

We have the history and heritage of God’s faithfulness and forgiveness going back thousands of years. Yet sometimes it is our own past history and lack of faithfulness that gets in our way of trusting in God.

Jacob was the big man, knowing that he was in the right, when he stood up to Laban. But with Esau, he knows he has done the wrong thing.

What do you do when your actions have caused the conflict? (Find out more. Part 6 is coming).

Pastor Ross

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Chapter 15

Hearing that David was now king of the united tribes of Israel, the Philistines had become troubled. They knew him to be a man skilled in battle strategies and, therefore, David was an immediate threat. They expressed their opposition by gathering their armies. As David learned of this approaching threat, he went to enquire of the Lord.

In prayer, David saw the realities of his anointing. The presence of God enveloped him as he prayed and he saw a picture of his hand crushing the Philistine army. God spoke clearly to him. “Go against them for I will give the Philistines into your hand.” This would be a battle borne from contempt of his leadership and he would fight it in a way that honoured God.

Somehow, as he prayed, David sensed that even more was at stake. Although he could not see God’s plan outstretched across the centuries, he felt that someone waited beyond the realms of time, watching for the battle to be completed. He could not have known that another king would one day come directly through his line to claim an even wider kingdom. He could not know that it was really His kingdom, the kingdom of the coming Messiah, which was being attacked by the powers of darkness.

As God’s presence seemed to increase, David voiced his thoughts.

“Why do people conspire and devise schemes against me, Your anointed one for no reason, Lord? Kings continually want to defy me and gather together against You.”

In David’s seriousness and anxiety, all of a sudden God was laughing. He was sure of it. He felt the untapped delight rise up and it startled him. But the laughter continued and soon it seemed as if all of heaven was exploding with its contagious joy. He could not help but laugh too. It seemed that the One true king, the Lord, enthroned in heaven, laughs and shows His contempt for the foolishness of men, but he was also aware that God also rebukes them in His anger, terrifying them by His wrath. God spoke clearly to David in words that gave him such hope and inspiration. He said, “I have established My King on Zion, My holy hill. You are My son, and today I have become Your Father. Ask Me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession. You will rule them with an iron sceptre, dashing them to pieces like pottery. Let kings be wise and be warned. Serve Me with fear and tremble as you rejoice. Blessed are all those who take refuge in Me.”

As the vision continued David saw a huge battleground, filled with enemy forces, jeering and threatening him. The enemy were not human but creatures, rulers and authorities of other realms, powers of the dark. Somehow he recognised the evil smell that wafted from their ranks.

The Lord spoke to the kings of the earth in this vision. He said, “Who will fight for Me?” Only David stepped forward. Other kings seemed not even to have heard the voice of God. He was afraid, but he said, “I will, my Lord! If You are with me.”

Immediately he was equipped for battle against these spiritual forces of evil, and as he knelt before the Lord he was anointed with a fragrant oil. The fragrance was familiar. It had been mixed up in a certain way which no-one could imitate and even the enemy knew, as God poured it on David’s head, that he was being consecrated, dedicated to God’s service as a king, and set apart for God’s service as holy. Only prophets, priests and kings were anointed with oil in this way. And as the oil flowed over him David knew that God was pouring out His Spirit upon him, so that he could fulfil his responsibility as king and be all that God intended him to be. The fragrance infiltrated the enemy ranks and they began to stir uneasily as God said,

“I am pouring My protection over you. It will surround you, for the Lord saves His anointed. and just as you honoured the anointing upon Saul, though he was evil, so too I have anointed you with honour for righteousness. You are My servant. I will sustain you and strengthen you. I will answer you as you pray. The enemy you see before you will not bring you under subjection or make you pay tribute, for I will crush them before you, as you strike them down.”

The Lord’s voice once more rang clearly, “My faithful love will be with you, forever and through My name you will be exalted. My covenant with you will never fail. I will establish your family line forever, and your throne as long as the heavens endure.”

David was overcome with an aching gratitude and love for the Lord and cried out with words which seemed so inadequate, “You are my Father, My God, the Rock on which I stand, and My Saviour!”

Again David sensed the importance of this battle. Somehow it would be a war that would take place in the heavens, beyond his ability to comprehend. It would be an important battle and the issue, it seemed, had something to do with his family line – his sons and his son’s sons, because somehow God would extend his kingdom forever. On the day that this battle would take place, all eternity would be hanging in the balance.

The anointing was a refreshing and purifying anointing. It’s expensive perfume brought great joy to David and he could feel it healing him of all sorrow and pain. It took away the stench of the enemy spread out before him.

The Lord said, “I have anointed you for battle. Break-through the enemy lines! Run in such a way as to have victory!” As He spoke it seemed that the very words were spoken into his being.

David could see the nations of the earth behind the enemy lines, bound with chains and blindfolded, struggling to break free. He began to walk and then run forward, sword in hand towards the enemy, shouting words of victory in the Name of the Lord.

The picture of one man running against such insurmountable odds seemed ridiculous. The enemy began to laugh as he came and soon thousands of the evil host were jeering at him. The roar of callous taunts tumbled across the plain and sounded like a raucous mob milling around the stoning of a common criminal.

As David moved closer he could see that the enemy was armed with every weapon imaginable, round shields, long broadswords, lances, and triangular daggers. They looked very warlike. Each of the leaders wore what looked like feathered headdresses. David ran closer with the sword that God had given him clutched in his hand. And as he ran, he knew that he would not become another prisoner of war, trapped in the snares of the enemy. God was with him and as he ran forward, he would overcome the enemy and free the captive nations. He would not be caught off guard or be wounded. He cried out from the depths of his heart, “Lord, I am ready!”

The hordes of darkness seemed also to be ready. They gathered in the valley of Rephaim and spread themselves out across the plain. David could see their leader now urging them towards him. He was commanding his full forces against David. They wanted David specifically. He could hear their curses clearly now.

The Lord said, “Behold, your adversary! Beware of his deceit.”

Thousands of the enemy seemed to roll across the plain like a huge river, pounding the earth and shouting as they came. David felt the surge of adrenaline race through his veins but the presence of God obliterated the last traces of fear as he charged towards them.

In a rush, he was face to face with their mighty leader, and the evil hordes, like horns on the head of a huge charging bull, were beginning to enfold him on either side. He was now well within striking distance. This giant of a creature lifted its gigantic sword. It’s eyes were the eyes of a lion as it clutches for it’s prey, intense, focused, determined and full of malevolent fury. It seemed as if David’s weapons would be useless against such overpowering strength and he lifted his sword in defence as the creature’s blade came whistling through the air towards him.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Chapter 12

Samuel had originally anointed David, with the minimum of fuss, at Bethlehem at the very place where his descendant Jesus would one day be born and worshipped by wise men as the King of kings. David was then anointed again in the sight of all Israel and Judah at Hebron.

Along with the rest of David’s family, Absalom was given pride of place in this ceremony.

He played games, as every six year old does to relive the exciting event that he had just witnessed. In fact for months afterward he relived the whole scene in his mind or played with his brothers and cousins until they grew sick of the game. He acted out the part of his father, making a covenant with all of Israel and Judah. The two kingdoms finally becoming one. All the people liked him and he was being anointed as king. He could still hear the crowds roar their approval and he was intoxicated by the adoration again and again.

At six years of age, Absalom determined that one day he would be king. The crowds would come from all over Israel to watch as he was anointed with the holy oil mixed especially to pour over kings. He would ride in a chariot with hundreds of soldiers running alongside. He would dress in purple wearing Asahel’s dagger at his side. Everyone would admire him and bow down to him and they would listen and do everything he said. Yes, one day he would be king.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 4

Six sons were born to king David while he was at Hebron. His third son, Absalom, was born to him by his wife Maacah. She was the beautiful daughter of king Talmai. The marriage was arranged as a political alliance. Talmai had played his advantage well and offered his firstborn daughter. If David had refused, the insult would have resulted in war. The arrangements were made.

David could still hear Abiathar’s voice ringing in his ears.

“But this woman is a Geshurite! You can’t marry her. I could understand you if you wanted to annihilate her father’s kingdom and dispossess them from the land altogether, but enter into covenant with them?” Abiathar was high priest and had served David faithfully since David had been a fugitive during king Saul’s reign.

“I have no choice,” said David, “The last thing I need is a war on the Northern borders. If I make a covenant with king Talmai, he will support me. At the moment, he wants peace. What am I to do? Turn our friends away?”

“He is not a friend! He is a parasite! They are the most morally depraved people in the land! You can’t do this. The holy records forbid it! At least let me send for the parchments in Hebron so that you can study them for yourself before you make your decision. I can send Ahimaaz, my son.”

“No, Abiathar! I am not waiting any longer. This is a time for a covenant while we have the opportunity, not a time to be studying the holy records to find a reason why we should not make peace with our friends. I have already given my word. I do not intend to waver now. And I want you here as the covenant is made.”

It was no use trying to dissuade him further. Abiathar sighed. “Yes, my lord,” he said.

Politically the move had been wise but David had not known peace since this marriage. He still wondered if he had been beguiled too quickly by the beauty of Maacah and the expedience of a covenant to prevent further bloodshed.

Then, as he slept, Joshua was before him. He watched his campaigns and how God had directed him as a mighty warrior and leader of Israel. He saw Jericho being conquered and Canaan defeated. And he heard the words from heaven boom with a thunder that chilled his heart,

“Why have you not dispossessed the Geshurites from the land as I commanded you?” but God was not speaking with Joshua. David stood with his Geshurite bride beside him and tried feebly to hide her from God’s sight. He issued orders immediately to Abiathar, “Find all the holy records you have on the Geshurites and bring them to me!”

The records came, but David tried not to read the words. It was no use! They bounced from the very walls as he looked at Maacah, “Her name is Oppression! Oppression! Oppression!” He held his ears as the scrolls were brought closer to him.

Suddenly, an arrow came through the Northern window. It came directly towards him and there was not time to avoid it. His eyes were wide with dread but just as the arrow approached his heart, Maacah held out a shield and he heard the dull thud of the point, like the sound of a heartbeat, magnified. David felt relieved, but his security was short-lived as Abiathar now read from the scroll and it seemed as if it were the voice of God as each word echoed into his soul,

“You are to destroy the Canaanites completely. All the nations of the land are to be completely annihilated, men, women and children! Men, women and children! MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN!”

David saw Talmai and Maacah and now instead of a shield, she held children in her hands, a little boy and a girl. But the voice came stronger, “You are to destroy them from the face of the earth!”

David cried, “Why, Lord? Why?”

“Because of their wickedness I will dispossess them before you lest they become a cancer to you and corrupt your ways that you sin against the Lord your God.”

“Lord, she is my wife! And these must be the children that one day she will bear. They are heirs!” But the voice of God was even more insistent,

“Those whom you allow to remain will become pricks in your eyes and thorns in your side, and they will give you trouble in your kingdom. And it will take place that what I plan for them, so will I do to you. They will be a snare and a trap to you until your death. Annihilate them completely! All the regions of the Geshurites! Men, women and children!”

Once again David looked at Maacah, beautiful Maacah with his children at her side, princess of Geshur standing with her proud father, king Talmai.

He thought of Abraham and how God had asked him to sacrifice his own son. With despairing obedience, He unsheathed his sword and with tears in his eyes, raised it above his head. Maacah began to scream. “David! David!” Then the voice became quieter.

“David. Wake up! You are having a dream,” she said. He awoke in a lather of sweat. Maacah was smiling. Her beauty was so warm and the tender song of her voice was totally disarming.

“I have good news to tell you,” she said, “I am going to have a baby.”

Genesis 26:26-35 – WE’RE NOT GOING TO LIVE IN FEAR!

She is new to Shalom, the Aged Care Facility where I work as a Chaplain. Jane (not her real name) is old and frail, and anxious. She clings onto my hand, frantic eyes wide and pleads “Will you stay here and talk to me. I don’t have any friends here. I need someone to stay with me. Please don’t leave me alone.” I can almost smell the fear it is so palpable as she looks into my eyes and tentatively glances around the room at her new surroundings.

That’s when I notice Francis (not her real name) at a table nearby, listening to our conversation and pretending to read a book. I breathe a sigh of relief. After all Jane can’t live the few remaining years her life in fear. Meeting new friends can only help. The perfect opportunity for Jane to meet a new friend. We arrive at her table and I introduce Jane to Francis.

Fancis, a rather tall and well built woman stands to her feet and before I can stop her she slams her considerable sized book on the table in front of her. With venom in her voice she yells at the top of her vocal range, swearing into Janes face “Get a ^%#@* grip on yourself woman! … Keep her away from me!” All of a sudden the loungeroom was a battlefield, Jane’s wheelchair was her trench and each strange face her enemy. She was afraid and I was her only ally, vainly waving a peace flag while it was being shot to pieces.

The shock of this confrontation is almost too much for Jane and I quickly wheel her away from her “potential friend” before she has a heart attack. I shake my head in disbelief as Francis continues her tirade from a distance. If Jane was fearful about being in a new place she is now TRAUMATISED against meeting anybody new. Who knows how the next stranger might respond? She feels REJECTED AND ISOLATED.

Isaac is also in a new place and among strangers, but initially he is tolerated and they allow him to farm the land. For someone who has never farmed before, Isaac has an unbelievably fruitful season, a bumper crop, by the time we get to Genesis 26:12. He is being blessed by God, and God, it seems, has incredible farming skills.

Although Isaac becomes very prosperous in his business, his RELATIONSHIP with his Philistine neighbours is in a mess. Isaac is seen as a THREAT and is ordered out of Gerar by the authorities. REJECTED AND ISOLATED in a strange place. Jane understands how he feels.

Isaac moves eventually to BEERSHEBA after a number of provocative incidents which, like a fully cocked flintlock on an ancient musket, were ready to create a spark that would ignite the priming powder of war. The Philistines are itching for a fight and they vandalise his wells by filling them with dirt.

Isaac is still pretty upset about the vandalism of his fathers wells. So when the Philistine King Abimelech walks into camp with his army commander, Phicol, he isn’t exactly receptive. He says “Why have you come here? You obviously hate me, since you kicked me off your land” (Genesis 26:27 NLT). He’s not being paranoid. They do hate him!

Abimelech acknowledges that he can see that the Lord is with Isaac. I spoke with a man the other day who can see the difference that faith has made but he is still unwilling to commit his life to Christ. Why is that? Is it because he is unwilling to come under God’s authority and to be accountable to Him?

Obviously Abimelech is a little bit afraid of the reprisals that might occur because of the vandalism to Isaacs wells. He says he wants peace. He says “Let’s make a covenant. Swear that you will not harm us, just as we have never troubled you. We have always treated you well, and we sent you away from us in peace…” (Genesis 26:28 NLT). What gall! Treated him well? He has just finished running him out of town, almost instigating a war in the process, and he says that he sent him away in peace! Thems fighting words!

Here’s Isaacs opportunity to get even by running Abimelech out of town, but Isaac doesn’t take it. He sees the bigger picture. He begins being intentional about peace. He starts thinking in effect “How long can we look at each other down the barrel of a gun?” The Australian pop singer Johnny Farnham would have been proud. “We’re not gonna sit in silence, WE’RE NOT GONNA LIVE WITH FEAR, Oh-o-o-o, whoa-o-o-o!” (The Voice).

Isaac prepares a non aggression treaty. They eat and drink together, a sign of their mutual agreement. Jesus says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9 NASB). Paul says “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Romans 12:18 NASB). The next morning they sign the treaty by making a solemn oath with each other in front of witnesses. Then Abimelech leaves in peace (Genesis 26:30-31) and in that atmosphere of peace and security comes more good news.

That very day Isaac’s servants came and told him about a new well they had dug. “We’ve found water!” they exclaimed. So Isaac named the well Shibah (which means “oath”). And to this day the town that grew up there is called Beersheba (which means “WELL OF THE OATH”)”. Isaac sees a connection with the finding of this well and the peace treaty he has just made with Abimelech, but mostly this is the place where God appears to him and reaffirms His covenant of blessing (Genesis 26:24-25).

Don’t miss it. Not having to live in fear is not just trying to please everyone around you. Deep-seated peace comes when I am in relationship with Christ who is my peace. Jesus says “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27 NLT). Reconciliation with God leads to reconciliation with others.

The invitation of peace with God and eachother is found in Christ. To followers of Christ, Paul writes, “You were His ENEMIES, SEPARATED from Him …Yet now He has RECONCILED you to Himself through the death of Christ …” (Colossians 1:19-22 NLT).

2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (NLT) says “… we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. … anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. … And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”

Now that’s some PEACE TREATY. Forgiven! Restored! Loved! “WE’RE NOT GONNA TO LIVE IN FEAR! OH-O-O-O, WHOA-O-O-O!”

Pastor Ross

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Genesis 25:7-18 – HOW TO CLAIM YOUR INHERITANCE

Claiming Your Inheritance

“MISHMA, DUMAH, MASSA,” (Genesis 25:14). Three of the children of Ishmael, maybe triplets. Their names became a PROVERB. Adam Clarke in his commentary on Genesis says “Mishma” means HEARING. “Dumah” means SILENCE; and ‏”Massa” means PATIENCE. The idea is “Hear much, say little, and have a lot of patience.” Perhaps that’s what James was quoting when he wrote in James 1:19 (NLT) “… You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry”.

MISHMA, DUMAH AND MASSA were tested at the bank recently. It was a comedy of errors from start to finish. My Mum didn’t sign her will and after her death my elder sister and I wanted to personally finalise various papers at the bank. We wanted the bank to release the money from my Mothers account, our INHERITANCE. It would only take five minutes in my lunch break.

My sister met me at my office and we went to the BANK together. We finally found the bank in the heart of the shopping centre but realised we had left the papers in the car. So we walked all the way back to the car and then found our way down the three floors once again to the bank. It only took us about 15 minutes. Patience. Still plenty of time.

The woman at the bank was helpful but insisted that we needed to find a JUSTICE OF THE PEACE to authorise certain documents. Don’t say anything that you will regret. Listen to the woman. She is only doing her job. Patience.

The Justice of the Peace came in on Wednesdays. It was Tuesday. We walked back to the car and drove back to my office where I enlisted the help of a Justice of the Peace from my workplace.

With papers authorised, once again we travelled back to the bank. The initial fifteen minutes had become two hours by the time we finalised the papers. Now all we had to do was post these documents to our solicitor who would enable us to “CLAIM OUR INHERITANCE”.

It could have been worse. We might have realised that we had left the papers at the bank when we had arrived back at my office, but fortunately the quick thinking woman from the bank came running down the corridor and handed us the documents. We had left them on the counter. My sister looked at me and said “Don’t say anything!” and we laughed at how we had made a simple task take so long. Mishma, Dumah and Massa came in handy that day.

In Genesis 25, only Isaac is named on the will, signed by Abraham Himself, to take to the bank to collect his INHERITANCE. Only Isaac was chosen by God to be the son whose descendents would one day lead to Jesus Christ. Who needs a Justice of the Peace when you have the GOD OF JUSTICE AND PEACE to verify the COVENANT?

Neither Ishmael nor the six sons of Keturah share in the inheritance of Abraham, although all of them are his children. Before he dies, Abraham gives them generous gifts and sends them away. Perhaps Abraham is protecting what God has said about the destiny of his son Isaac.

Back in Genesis 16:12 (NLT) God told Abraham that Ishmael would “be a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey! He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him. Yes, he will live in OPEN HOSTILITY AGAINST ALL HIS RELATIVES.” The 12 tribes of Ishmael follow their father’s example. What a terrible way to live – in open hostility to everyone around them and to the purposes of God. I claim my inheritance by FAITH and not by FIGHTING against His purposes for my life.

Colossians 1:21-22 (NLT) says that because of sin we all fight God either openly or inwardly. It says “This includes you who were once FAR AWAY from God. You were His ENEMIES, SEPARATED from Him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now He has RECONCILED you to Himself through the death of Christ …” Christ bore the enmity, the open hostility and inward rebellion of us all, opening the way for me to have a relationship with Him.

What is that inheritance that God wants me to receive? 1 Peter 1:4-5 (NLT) that “we have a priceless inheritance—an INHERITANCE that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your FAITH (in Christ), God is protecting you by His power until you receive this SALVATION, …” Eternal life, forgiveness, peace with God.

MISHMA, DUMAH AND MASSA. Listen (MISHMA) and spend time to understand what God is saying (DUMAH) and remember that “the Lord isn’t really being slow about His promise, as some people think. No, He is being patient (MASSA) for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9 NLT).

The invitation of reconciliation is a prayer away. “Lord, I choose to be reconciled to You and receive the inheritance of Salvation that You have given to me in Christ.”

Pastor Ross

Genesis 24 – TAKE AN OATH AND PLACE MY HAND WHERE? – Part 4

Oath on Bible – Photo created by Ross Cochrane using photos from MorgueFile.com

SUBPOENA AD TESTIFICANDUM. Ordered by writ of the court to testify. The maintenance man drove us in his van to the courthouse. Two young women, both relatively new to Australia had been issued with subpoenas. They had never testified before and for them going to court implied that they were going to be convicted, or at least have their reputations ruined by their association with another persons guilt. As their Pastor and Chaplain, I was there to support them. They would make AN OATH ON THE BIBLE and would be constrained by that oath to tell the truth.

In Genesis 24:2-9 (NLT) Abraham subpoenas his oldest and most trusted servant “TAKE AN OATH BY PUTTING YOUR HAND UNDER MY THIGH. Swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not allow my son to marry one of these local Canaanite women. Go instead to my homeland, to my relatives, and find a wife there for my son Isaac.” Abraham says “Be careful never to take my son there. For the Lord, the God of heaven, solemnly promised to give this land to my descendants.” So the servant takes the oath by putting his hand under the thigh of his master, Abraham and swears to follow Abraham’s instructions. He is constrained by that oath to fulfil Abraham’s requests.

Strange way to take an oath. What is this “place your hand under my thigh” business? If someone told me to do this I would say “You want me to place my hand where?” I certainly wouldn’t go telling anyone today to place his hand under my thigh and take an oath. He’d hit me! Perhaps this is why the Bible discourages the making of oaths (James 5:12)!

It is clear that this is not your normal “swear to tell the truth by placing your hand on the Bible” oath. Many commentators agree that the servant probably kneels before Abraham and places his hand between Abraham’s thighs (the thighs symbolise power and strength), under his genitals, because that’s where he bore the MARK OF CIRCUMCISION, the sign of God’s covenant concerning a great nation.

This oath to find the right girl for Isaac as a wife is related to the COVENANT PROMISES God has made to Abraham concerning his descendents who would come from the “loins” of Abraham.

Today such an oath would almost look like a homosexual act, but it has nothing to do with homosexuality. In fact just the opposite. It is related more to the marriage of a man and woman and procreation. (Mind you, if it had been me, I’d make sure no-one was around when this kind of oath was made. It wouldn’t look right).

But the idea of this oath is to have integrity about the things you say you are going to do based on the things that God has said He would do concerning descendents. You will notice this oath even has an escape clause. If the girl didn’t come with the servant he would be free of the oath.

From my point of view as a Westerner it is a repulsive way of making an oath. Imagine if we used this method in court today? I’m glad it’s not a ritual like Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. But if I am not careful I can miss the real emphasis of these verses in the Bible because I am looking at it through the eyes of my culture.

The invitation is to see BEYOND THE METHOD of making the oath to the commitment that is being made to God and the fulfilment of the covenant promises He makes. The servant is to “Swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, …” (Genesis 24:3 NLT) that he will find the right girl for Isaac to marry, so that the promises a great nation through Abraham will be realised.

As I commit my life completely to the Lord Jesus Christ I am saying that God is my Lord and has authority over my life. He is my God, the God of heaven and earth. His authority is well beyond anything that I can imagine. I am asking that Heavens purposes be fulfilled on earth. I am agreeing that His promises and purposes be accomplished and that I am willing to co-operate with Him.

Pastor Ross

Genesis 24 – THINGS THAT DON’T GO TOGETHER – Part 3

Just Married!

The engine of a Fiesta in a Ferrari! Pickles and icecream. There are certain things that definitely DON’T go together. Aluminium foil and microwaves (Julie rediscovered this recently). Children and cancer. Wouldn’t it change the world if honesty and politics went together.

It was dark when I dressed and when I arrived at the Church building we sat around in a small circle of dedicated students learning and reciting Greek declensions with our Pastor. It was about halfway through one of these early morning classes that I noticed my shoes. I was wearing TWO DIFFERENT KINDS OF SHOES! Very embarrassing. I wonder if anybody else noticed? Certain things should not be worn together.

Deuteronomy 22:10 (NLT) says “You must not plough with an ox and a donkey harnessed together.” The idea here is that there are certain things that are totally INCOMPATIBLE. They were never meant to be placed in the same yoke, never meant to be together in the same equation. Just won’t fit! Won’t make sense! Doesn’t work well!

Abraham wants his son to marry a woman from among his own relatives and insists that he must not marry a Canaanite girl. It almost seems RACIST! Wouldn’t it be better to form an alliance through marriage with the people who are there in the land promised to Abraham? What an easy way of claiming the promised land. You would think that it would HELP THE PROMISE along a little. So far Abraham only owns a burial plot that he bought for Sarah. Why not also form a covenant through a marriage to a Canaanite girl with his son? It was clear that he DOES NOT WANT THIS TO HAPPEN. Why? Are we to be DISCRIMINATORY when we choose a marriage partner? No, but we are to be DISCRIMINATING.

The Bible speaks of our relationship with God as being the most important relationship we will ever have, even more important than our marriage relationship. When we marry we form a COVENANT. That covenant is used as a picture of our relationship with God. Ephesians 5:25 (NASB) says “Husbands, love your wives, just AS CHRIST ALSO LOVED THE CHURCH and gave Himself up for her,…”   The Canaanites were idol worshipers and REJECTED THE GOD OF ABRAHAM.

There are certain things that DEFINITELY DON’T GO TOGETHER. Ur and Abraham. Sodom and Lot. Idols and the temple. Christ and the devil. Light and darkness. Righteousness and wickedness. A FOLLOWER OF CHRIST MARRYING AN UNBELIEVER. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NLT) says “DON’T TEAM UP WITH (be UNEQUALLY YOKED with) those who are unbelievers.” It’s like harnessing an ox and an ass together.

Abraham is confident that the Lord will send an ANGEL ahead of the servant to help him find the right girl for Isaac among his relatives. Angels have already played an important part in Abraham’s life (Genesis 18, 19, 22). By the way, he is not talking about A CUPID-LIKE ANGEL, so let’s not go there. It was probably Gabriel or Michael, the fiercest of all angels, sent to protect the promises of God to Abraham.

A GREAT NATION was coming through Abraham. JESUS would one day be born through this family line and it seems God didn’t want anybody or anything, demonic or otherwise, to interfere with the process of finding Rebekah. Abraham’s faith had been tested and he had learned some valuable lessons. He is doing everything he can to make sure that he doesn’t get in the way of God again.

Perhaps it was the archangel Gabriel who was sent. Afterall Gabriel turns up at the birth of Christ to Mary (Luke 1:26) and angels throughout the Bible have a way of protecting people (and I might add of scaring them to death in the process. It seems they always have to reassure people by saying “Do not fear!” so they obviously aren’t the cute, fat baby-like cupid angels that we see on wedding invitations).

In a world where Satan wants to destroy Godly marriages because they are a picture of our relationship with Christ, is this your opportunity to pray that God would SEND AN ANGEL to protect you and that God would lead you to the right person to marry? Some people are just meant to be together.

Pastor Ross