The End of an Era

Continued from God’s Delight

The Departure of Abraham; the Rise of Isaac
Once again journey with me back in time to the Biblical days Abraham, in particular, we are reading the Bible at Genesis 25:1-18. Abraham is well advanced in years; his time for departure from this earthly temporal realm is near. The era that commenced with him, however (see Genesis 12:1-3), continues on to this day and beyond (see Acts 1:6-8).

At a “ripe old age” Abraham remarries – a concubine (see 1 Chronicles 1:32-33) whose name is Keturah. Through her Abraham fathers six sons: Zimran, and his five brothers – Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.

But to Isaac, Abraham’s principle heir – son of his first wife, Sarah – will go "all of Abraham’s property and authority", from the Life Application Study Bible. To the other sons and grandson, however, and to Keturah, many other gifts from Abraham are given.

Abraham then dies having lived 175 years. “His sons Isaac and Ishmael bury him in the cave of Machpelah, near Mamre, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite … where he had buried his wife Sarah” (Genesis 25:9-10; cf. Genesis 24:17-20). Ishmael’s years numbered 137 then he too breathed his last, and joined his ancestors.

God’s blessing to Abraham is passed on to Isaac, who settles in Beer-lahai-roi in the Negev.


The Era Moving Forward

Let us fast forward now to the first century A.D. in particular to the year of our Lord A.D. 30. We are reading in the Bible at Matthew 27:45-56, 28:1-7, 16-20.

God had come to earth as a man (see John 1:1-5, 10-14) in the person of Jesus, the Christ (Messiah) around 6 or 4 B.C. Jesus begins His public ministry around 30 years of age proclaiming the blessing of Abraham (see Galatians 3:14-15), which is for all generations.

“He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him” (John 1:11). Finally, He is tried. At His trial, He is mocked and ridiculed, and accusations are made against Him. At last, the people cry out, “Crucify Him!” (Matthew 27:22), asking that Barabbas be released instead (see Matthew 27:21).

Though nothing is found against Jesus He is hung on a cross where He dies. Three days later the borrowed tomb where His body is laid is found empty. Early on that third day, the two Marys go to visit the tomb (see Matthew 28:1). Finding the stone rolled away and Jesus’ body gone, fearfully they wonder what had happened. “Don’t be afraid,” the angel said to the women, “I know you are looking for Jesus…. He isn’t here! He has risen from the dead. Just as He said would happen. (Matthew 28:5-6)

“Now go and tell his disciples,” the angel said to them (see Matthew 28:7). “Tell them to go to Galilee; they will see him there.” At Galilee Jesus meets with His disciples one last time on earth. He issued His Great Commission, for the era to move forward: “Go and make disciples of all the nations [peoples]” (see Matthew 28:19).

Consider further, read The Blessing of Abraham

Continuing Through Time

From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya
Fast forwarding now further through time we come to the late 17th century. The year is A.D.1690; the place, Moravia, and we witness the birth of a boy to a devout Roman Catholic family. He is Christian David. Through his youth, he, too, is devoted to Roman Catholicism – zealous in observing rituals, holidays, and adoring the Virgin Mary.

In growing up however he searches to find more meaning to his life, not finding it totally in Roman Catholicism, or among Lutherans, or even among Jews. Traveling about – from Moravia – he searches for the truth. He finds it in the Bible, recognizing Jesus as the promised Messiah.

Traveling about David meets hundreds of persecuted Christians, longing for a refuge. That stored in his heart he shares with Count Zinzendorf and together they establish Herrnhut.

Married at the age of 27 and encouraged by his wife, Anna, “he becomes a traveling lay preacher,” Ruth A. Tucker, From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya. Also, Tucker writes that other than Count Zinzendorf, David, too, is most involved in forming the Moravian church.

Johan Hörner, Hans Egede, c. 1745,
Danish Museum of National History
Eager for work in evangelism, he is commissioned, along with other Moravian Christ followers, and sent as missionaries to Greenland. There, in meeting with Lutheran missionary Hans Egede, they work side-by-side proclaiming God’s Good News, which is for all generations – The Blessing of Abraham (see Galatians 3:14-29).

For more on Christian David and Hans Egede read
Ruth A. Tucker’s From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya.

God’s Delight

Continued from A Good Neighbor

A Wife for Isaac

Journey back with me in time to the Biblical days Abraham, in particular, we are reading in the Bible at Genesis chapter 24.

At this time Abraham, living in the land of Canaan, is very old and has been greatly blessed by the LORD. Not long ago he buried his wife Sarah, also well advanced in years (see Genesis 23:19). Now, before he dies, Abraham wishes to find a wife for his son Isaac, but he wishes her not to be found among the Canaanites, but among his own relatives.

Abraham calls for his oldest and most trusted servant, Eliezer (see Genesis 15:2-3), and instructs him how to find Isaac a wife. Eliezer promised as Abraham has asked. Then loading up ten of his master’s camels, and with gifts, he travels to Aram-Naharaim (Mesopotamia), where Abraham’s brother Nahor lives.

Eliezer is obedient, as Abraham had instructed. Arriving at Aram-Naharaim, kneeling before God, Eliezer prays that he would know for certain that the woman God sends his way is the choice for Isaac’s wife. God answers even before Eliezer finishes praying, as is His delight in hearing His people pray (see Isaiah 65:24; Jeremiah 29:12; 33:3; Psalm 50:15; 91:15). Rebekah comes with her jug to dwell water from the well.

Speaking with her, and realizing she is God’s choice, as the culture of that day Eliezer “put a ring on her nose and bracelets on her wrists.” And he meets Rebekah’s father Bethuel and brother Laban. He tells his story of how the LORD had answered his prayer. Hearing the story the father and brother give Rebekah to Eliezer to be Isaac’s wife. In showing gratitude Eliezer then gives the relatives gifts of no little expense.

Eliezer remained overnight with Abraham’s relatives. The next morning Eliezer with his men, Rebekah and her nurse and servant girls, returns to his master Abraham, and to find Isaac.

Isaac is seen walking in the fields, meditating when he is found. Rebekah, properly attired, is introduced to him. She becomes Isaac’s wife; Isaac is at last comforted after his mother’s death (see Genesis 24:65-67).

Consider further, read the study guide A Bride for Isaac.

Peter Miraculously Set Free

Fast forward now to the first century A.D., in particular to the year of our Lord A.D. 44. In the Bible, we are reading Acts 12:1-19.

King Herod Agrippa I is ruler in Judea. He’s a ruthless man, persecuting believers of the Christian faith.  Seeing the Jewish people pleased in his having the Apostle James killed with a sword, he then has Peter arrested and imprisoned, heavily guarded by four squads of soldiers. Herod Agrippa's intent is to bring Peter to trial the next day after the Jewish Passover. The church, hearing of Peter’s imprisonment, however, prays earnestly for him. And God answers even while they speak, as is His delight in hearing His people pray.

Peter sleeps, “fastened with two chains between two soldiers” (Acts 12:6); other soldiers guard the prison gate. Suddenly a bright light shines in the cell; an angel of the Lord stands before Peter. “Get up,” the angel speaks (Acts 12:7). The chains fall off. Dressed, sandals buckled, Peter walks out, not realizing what is happening. The soldiers are undisturbed and unawakened.

Out of prison, Peter realizes what had just happened: “The Lord sent his angel and saved me from Herod and what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!” (Acts 12:11). He then hurries to the home of Mary, John Mark’s mother, “where many were gathered for prayer” (Acts 12:12). Peter knocks at the door. Rhoda, a servant girl, arriving at the door recognizes Peter’s voice. She is so excited, and before opening the door rushes back to the people. “Peter is standing at the door!” she exclaims (Acts 12:14).

At first, they don’t believe her. Peter continues knocking. When the people finally arrive at the door and opens the door they’re excitedly overjoyed at seeing Peter standing there. Quieting them, Peter shares his story of “how the Lord had led him out of prison” (Acts 12:17).

Consider further, read the study guide James is Martyred, Petet is Set Free.

God Knows the Plans He has For Us

Journey on now further through time to the 13th Century, in particular to the year of our Lord A.D. 1232.We witness the birth of Raymond Lull (or Ramon Llull) to a wealthy Roman Catholic family of Majorca an island off the coast of Spain.

Perhaps an unlikely candidate to be considered for missionary service, yet he was the first missionary to Muslims. Though married and with children, he had mistresses on the side. In his own testimony he relates, “I lived a life of utter immorality.”

God, however, had other/better plans for Lull, as He does for all of His people (see Jeremiah 29:11), and brought him to repentance and faith through visions. For one, “the Savior hanging on His cross, the blood trickling down from His hands and feet, and brow, look reproachfully at Lull.”

The vision appears a second time and Lull commits his life to Christ, but not without doubts. “How can I,” he said, defiled with impurity, rise and enter a holier life.” And yet a third time, making him conscious of his responsibility toward others, he considers that his missionary call. That, too, is God’s delight – as the Scripture says, “there is more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!”  (Luke 15:7, 3-6, NLT).

In yet another vision God convinces him that he was to evangelize the nomadic Muslim Saracens, and he launches on a nine-year study of the Arabic language. Lull’s missionary focus as Ruth A. Tucker states in her book From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya, “is primarily that of apologetics – to persuade people to accept the Christian faith because it is true.”

Up in his 80’s Lull continues preaching Christ in Islamic Noth Africa, until he is stoned. He passes from this temporary physical realm on board ship in sight of Majorca.

Consider further, read Raymond Lull, Troubadour for God

A Tarnished Crown, A Bloody Cross, An Empty Grave

Man: the crown of God’s creation (see Genesis 1:26-27). But the serpent was crafty and sly. In his deceptive ploy, he came to the woman and caused her to question God’s word.

“You will not surely die,” he hissed. “Rather, you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Eyeing the fruit, the woman liked what she saw. Seeing that it was good for food, pleasing to behold, and desirable to gain wisdom (see Gen 3:6; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:14; James 1:14-15; 1 John 2:16), she ate it, and gave it to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. All of a sudden, shame having attacked their very souls they sewed (perishable) fig leaves together to cover their newly recognized nakedness (see Genesis 3:1-7).

Hearing the LORD God walking in the Garden, they hid from him (but quickly learned that was impossible). They were deceived, desiring worldly pleasures more than God’s purposes for them.

As disobedient children, God disciplined them. Creation’s crown now tarnished, they were put out of that Garden to manage in their own way; they had chosen by their act to live a life of struggling to “make ends meet.” A great gulf was fixed between God and humankind, invoking misconduct, immorality, and terror throughout the earth. It continues today, humans still having the rebellious nature inherited from the “first Adam,” the sentence of death being the final payment (see Genesis 3:22-24).

Yet, God still loved his human creatures. He provided for their physical need, a more durable covering, and when the time was right, a return to his presence (see Genesis 3:21).

The Time Had Fully Come

“But when the time had fully come [some 2000 years ago], God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (see Galatians 4:4-5; cf. Mark 1:15; Romans 5:6; Ephesians 1:10).

Shepherds listened to the herald angels singing; the Good News of great joy for all the peoples, they're bringing! "A Savior has been given to you – Christ, the Lord!" (see Luke 2:11) Then, once seeing Him, they go around spreading the word about Him. All are amazed when they hear.

Magi (royal astrologers), too, came from far across the desert sand following the star they had seen in the East. They arrived in Jerusalem and inquired of the one who was born king of the Jews. To Bethlehem their journey concluded, the star looming brightly over the house where the Child was, with Mary His mother. Overjoyed when finally seeing Him, they bowed down and worshiped Him and presented their treasures – their gifts to Him – of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Yet, He had been born to die, from the manger to the cross, paying the price in full for the sins of all – from the poor as the shepherds to the wealthy, as the Magi – bloodying a rugged cross on a hill, paying the price in full for all of humanity, made effective to those who believe, receiving Jesus as Lord.

He was buried in a borrowed grave! But he didn’t stay there. On the third day, as the Scriptures had promised, he rose from the dead. With the grave empty (of Jesus’ body, the clothes that wrapped Him remained) He appeared first to Peter, then to the Twelve, and then to more than 500 others at the same time—such strong evidence indeed of Jesus' resurrection from the dead.

Then, as his disciples stood watching Him ascend into the sky, returning to his Father, two men in white apparel appeared with them, and spoke, “This same Jesus, as you see him go into the heavens, will so come again in like manner, at the Father's will.”

Until then, as Jesus has commanded his disciples (and us), we're to proclaim this good news, as a shining beacon of God's glorious truth to all peoples of the earth.

For further reflection, consider –
Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 2:8-20; Luke 1:26-38; John 1:1-5, 10-14; Acts 1:1-11; Romans 5:8-10; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Philippians 2:9-11