A Quick Abrahamic Bible Study
A Quick Abrahamic Bible Study
(When I started this I thought "quick" was appropriate; now I just use it in the title as a joke.)
5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.
6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. (Gen 15:5,6)
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. (Gal 3:16)
Has anyone ever thought, like me, that Paul seemed to be stretching it a bit when he says that when God makes the promise to Abraham's "seed" he means a singular meaning, Christ, instead of a plural meaning, i.e bunches of people? Well, it's both/and, isn't it?
If the "Seed" of Abraham is Christ, and God said in His promise to Abraham, pointing to the innumerable stars in the heavens and saying, "So shall thy seed be," than God, in His promise, was making reference to an innumerable company, and that the company, the City of God, corporately is Christ.
What do we think he saw when God showed him the stars of heaven & said "so shall thy seed be"? Jesus tells us, "Abraham rejoiced to see my day." Abraham was a man of the Spirit, who knew the promise of God was not limited merely to his son Isaac and his fleshly descendents, but Abraham saw & embraced the kingdom of God; he foreknew & foresaw the Christ of God.
God opened Abraham's vision to more than physical stars, to more than the fruit of his loins, but to the heavenly promise of redemption in Christ, and the resurrection of the whole world, the entire cosmos, to newness of life. As the "heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament showeth His handiwork" Abraham saw in his vision of God the shining forth of the sons of God, ONE NEW MAN, as Paul said, which is Christ, All in all, i.e. the "seed" of God.
He had already discovered the "secret hid from ages & generations," in Gen 15:1, "After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward." This is not some promise of gold or silver, big flocks & fruitful wives, nor even the promise of eternal "rewards" in the hereafter, but of one "thing" only, the Person of God. "I AM THY SHIELD, AND THY EXCEEDING GREAT REWARD." I, myself, am your reward, Abraham. I, myself, am the sum total of everything and anything to sustain and uphold and give life to you. I, myself, am EVERYTHING to you, Abraham!
Yet Abraham immediately asks God for an heir -- why? (verse 2) If God was his reward, his sufficiency, his totality, why then, did Abraham immediately tell him he felt deficient without an heir?
Because this is already the Father's life stirring in him. God's Life exists in us to procreate. It is the basic primal urge of the physical human race (and everywhere I go I see no shortage of babies) to "be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth" (the one commandment we've been the best at [because we get to have more fun fulfilling that one than most of the others]). If that is the most basic urge of the physical race, how much more does that desire drive the "race from heaven"?
How much more does the Second Adam wish to reproduce Himself? The love drive in the physical, that makes men & women get together, marry, have children, and all that, is only a shadow compared to the love drive in the Spirit, that bonds all in the outflowing love of God, and seeks continuously only to increase love by giving birth to love in others, through the revelation of Christ in us.
It was God's stirring in Abraham to ask for an heir, because it was God's plan all along. So Abraham was not being faithless or forgetting what had just been revealed to him about God as his All in all, but rather he was expressing in his natural desires for a child of his own body the equally natural desires of the Heavenly Father for a child of His own body, the fruit of His Own Loins, to come forth, which was His Seed, sown in every human created and who breathed God's breath.
"And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." Another of Paul's proof texts, so we say, of the doctrine of justification by faith.
But this is more than a proof text. This is the way things work at the foundation of the universe.
This is more than a mental belief that there is a God, or there is a Christ, or that Christ is the Saviour. It's more than picking a new boss to work for. It's more than changing one's loyalties.
God has just spoken a great word to him -- "I am thy exceeding great reward" -- and shown him a vision of Christ in the stars of heaven and made him a personal promise that that will be "his seed." Abraham's "belief" is his losing his life, so to speak, that is, he has been shifted in his consciousness from his limited perception of himself and the division of this world, to the All Sufficiency of the Living God, seen in the Eternal. God spoke and in his willing reception of the Living Word of God, the Spirit of God filled Abraham in his inner being & became his righteousness. Abraham knew his righteousness, and like others before him and innumerable ones since, knew that even though he walked the earth as regular ol' patriarch Abraham, he lived in and trusted in the Unseen One, and that the life he lived dwelling in tents in Canaan was the life of the Son of God, the Righteousness of God. The Grace of God overtook father Abraham, and like his daughter Mary many centuries later said, "Be it unto me according to thy word."
But faith is tested. That sounds ominous, doesn't it? It is ominous, if we aren't prepared for something. If we know we're going to have a test on Friday, we're a lot more nervous about it if we haven't studied.
"Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32)
Because it is the Father's good PLEASURE to give us the kingdom, faith is put to the test, not to see if it will hold up, but to purify it & bring it forth as shining gold by showing that it DOES hold up, because this faith is GOD HIMSELF speaking in us.
So right after Abraham gets the promise about his seed he puts together a sacrifice and this is what happened:
11 And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.
12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.
13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.
14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.
Just as soon as Abraham "believed," i.e. heard the word of God and affirmed it in his heart, what do you know but a "great horror of darkness fell upon him"?
Again, this is how things work. It's what gets the engine running, the pistons pumping, the power train engaged. I find that when faith wells up in me from the depths within, when the Word of God has seemed the most clear and purposeful, and God has spoken in such a way that there is no doubt of the Truth of Himself operating fully in His All in all in me and in the whole world, that's when the great horror of darkness sometimes comes in its dam-bursting violence, and like a manic-depressive, what had only moments before seemed the bliss of eternity has now turned into the horror of doubt and self-recrimination.
We know where that comes from, the horny toad, but we're not part of his thing anymore, he doesn't own us, but his work is all part of this oiling & tuning the engine process, so for a time we're subjugated to his taunts and jeers and "you-stupid-idiot" name-calling that he does with my own voice in my head -- clever of him.
Down to Egypt one more time, down one more time to listen to Pharoah's boasts, down one more time to make bricks without straw, but now we've learned the purpose of it, realized we are not our own, we are sent wherever we are sent, afterward to come out with "great substance," and there is only one "substance" that is any substance in life, and that is the sons of God.
We, the Seed of God, the ONE MAN which is the Christ of God, are subjected to vanity, not of our own will, but of the will of him who subjected us to it (Rom 8:20); that is, we are subjected to the subtle pulls and side-trips and distractions of the one who would make us believe, if we would, that "vanity" is all there is, like the "preacher" in Ecclesiastes, and there are days upon days upon days when it seems like he's right. We feel alone, forsaken, bereft of hope, forgotten of God. The "promise" we heard on the mountain of transfiguration has faded into a pipe-dream, a mockery, and the accusation of "you're crazy to believe all that stuff" seems like a respite and certainly more logical and easier to "believe" than some invisible unheard "word" from an invisible unseen God.
It's an old trick, and he doesn't really seem to know anymore tricks than that one. But as the Father has sent us into vanity to prove Himself and bring many sons to glory, to fill up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ, even so faith arises of itself and by nothing we do faith rises at the bottom of the pit of hell/redemption. Like the four lepers, we arise & say, "Why sit we here til we die?" (2 Kings 7). We venture out and find the enemy decimated and the Living God has invisibly won the Day.
The bottom line is this, just as it was for Abraham.
"And Abraham believed in the Lord, and it was counted unto him as righteousness." Again, this is not a proof text. This is Reality. To believe in the Lord is to believe in NOTHING BUT the Lord. There is nothing else. HE IS the ALL from which all things have come, and He has created all out of His Word, His Logos, and fills all which He has created. To "believe in the Lord" is to see HIM as the SUFFICIENCY & SUBSTANCE & SOURCE out of which ALL THINGS are and in which ALL THINGS are upheld.
ALL THINGS -- and "all things" includes "ALL" things -- there is NOTHING left out ....
People say we blaspheme by believing that. That it is somehow pantheism or new age or something like that. I say people blaspheme by not believing that. I say people don't really believe in God UNLESS they believe that He is All in all, because that is what 1 Cor 15 says the completion is, and by grace through faith that completion is fulfilled in us right now, this very moment, GOD IS ALL IN ALL, COMPLETELY THE TOTALITY & SUBSTANCE AND LIFE AND SOURCE AND POWER of everything that is, was, and ever shall be. HE is ALPHA and OMEGA. HE's IT, from A to Z. Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Those who are in Christ and have lost their lives in Him already "believe" that, regardless of what "doctrines" they hold, because to fall into the arms of the Living God, regardless of our mental conceptual understandings of it, is beyond our mental state, and in the realm of the spirit, where true faith is known and exercised above, beyond, below, and in and through our intellect. Whatever our outer mind may or may not comprehend, inwardly where Spirit is joined with spirit we "know." And that is where faith comes from.
"Fear not, little flock, for it is the Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."
"So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;
And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.
For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear." (Matt 4:26-28)
You are the ground, and the seed is Christ. You didn't sow yourself, God did. His seed is stronger than anything in the universe, since it is "of" His seed that the universe consists. It has a life of its own. It grows up of itself, in its own way, in its own time. A little at a time, to our viewpoint. But the day comes, despite the mockers, the judgers, the scoffers, (that we hear in our own head), despite our own self-doubts and thinking the Day of the Lord will never come and we've believed in a fairy-tale, the Day comes, when the full corn in the ear is seen. This garden WILL grow, and it WILL produce, because the husbandman is the Father, not we ourselves, we are only the ground where the seed is cast, but what a great tree comes forth from such a little, insignificant, almost invisible seed, so great a tree that the fowls of the air have their nests in it, and the beasts of the field take cover from the heat of the sun. We are the "tree planted by the water" that shall never be moved.
Isaac will be born, and we shall look to the stars of heaven and hear the same word Abraham heard, "So shall thy seed be."