Double Portion for the Firstborn

Double Portion for the Firstborn

Double Portion for the Firstborn

The concept of permanence is difficult for creatures as locked into temporal nature as human beings to comprehend.

The entirety of Ecclesiastes comments on the vaporous vain vexations of life under the sun, and it is not without its points.

However, even the wise old king Solomon had to admit that there was one unique exception to what is otherwise the agonizing reality of the entropy of all things and that is that is this:

“I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.” (Eccl. 3:14).  

David’s son goes on to conclude,  

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Eccl 12:13). 

The Fear of God is an important thing, and at the center of these coming holidays.

Passover and the feast of unleavened bread are commemorative event instituted by God to remember Israel’s salvation from Egypt, but we must remember that these things are prototypes of the future anti-type of Christ.

Paul says it another way:  

“These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” (Colossians 2:17) 

The original Passover is the climax of the event of salvation in the redemptive story of God over Egypt’s gods.

The background of this entire ordeal is the Spirit of God moving through Moses to bring curses and plagues.

This was a gross display of power to destroy any opposition to the rebellious angelic and demonic forces that were at work in that area— Pharaoh’s magicians were able to replicate multiple of the plagues at first!

This was hostile enemy territory controlled by powerful and malevolent powers, both earthly and within the realm of spirits.

And Passover was the ultimate blow: God takes the firstborn of Egypt (livestock included!). 
 
Let’s first remember the religious context: Pharaoh was a man treated and believed to be a god. One way to understand it was that Pharaoh was an incarnation of the God Horus, or at least his legal representative. Never forget that Satan loves to mock the Lord. 

So, in this marriage of religion and government, Egypt losing her firstborn son completely desolated her.

And because it is so easy for us vaporous creatures to forget, God has instituted a  permanent celebration of this holiday; a permanence on par with the tree of life’s fruit, the rainbow, God’s promises to Abraham, or the Sabbath.

It was this Holiday that the Lord Jesus Christ was celebrating and was crucified directly prior to. There are countless similarities, the counting of which extends much farther than the scope of this blog.

However, I believe the most important is the cost of the life of the firstborn. This is why God declares ownership of all firstborn when He declares that the tribe of Levi fulfill this roll, which was why John the Baptist had to baptize Jesus.

Moreover, He requires the people to redeem their firstborn sons.

However, Israel’s ultimate firstborn was not be spared. 

Jesus is firstborn in the traditional sense, but He is also the first man to be born of the Spirit, exemplified by His miraculous birth by a virgin. Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, was celebrating this holiday. 
 
This firstborn of Israel was not spared, but there was even more spiritual warfare going on in the midst of this Passover.

The first good Friday (or Wednesday if you are like me and consider a Wednesday crucifixion more likely) marks the beginning of the 3 days and nights act as the turning point of all creation, the moment that God made checkmate against the old spiritual forces He defeated back in Moses’s day.

Easter Sunday was Jesus’s birthday as not just Israel’s firstborn, but the firstborn of the new Creation that he might be pre emanate in all things.  

The ultimate firstborn was not spared, but can never die.

 

Double Portion for the Firstborn

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The Law and The Redemptive Process

The Law and The Redemptive Process

The Law and The Redemptive Process

A brief overview of the book of Romans

General and special revelation have very strong differences that are easily distinguishable: revelation given by direct divine intervention is special revelation and general revelation is accessible to all by virtue of living in the world.

General revelation is available universally and was pursued by means such as Philosophy wherein geniuses like Plato and Aristotle were able to make great strides in the realm of theology by utilizing philosophy to develop arguments like the Argument from Contingency (Aristotle’s unmoved mover), the Teleological argument, and others.

They, however, fell short of knowing God quite like the Hebrew did to whom God made special effort to reveal himself: “despite Aristotle’s remarkable moral sensitivity in many ways, he still despised the idea of humility and the idea of being in anyone’s debt.” (McQuilken, & Copan, 2014, pg.72).

Another philosophical argument for God, the argument from morality, is used by the Apostle Paul when he makes this a major premise in the beginning of Romans to lay out his argument of the inexcusability of all the gentile world before God (Romans 1:18-32). He goes on to liken this general moral understanding of right and wrong (Romans 2:14-15), of which has been seared with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:2), to the Law of Moses in that he explains how the Jew is likewise doomed despite being divinely given the correct moral understanding of right and wrong by divine fiat (Romans 2:17-29).

Thus, both general revelation and special revelation are impotent for dealing with the great problem of evil and suffering faced by all mankind (Romans 3:9-20). 

This problem, of course, goes back to the very beginning wherein Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, giving them the ability to know both (Genesis 3:22) something which the Law of Moses serves an identical purpose: “law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless” (1 Timothy 1:9, ESV). That is why Paul spoke of the law as a curse to those who are under it in Galatians 3:10-14.

As Paul continues in Romans, he shows how God was fulfilling His prophecy of writing the law on our hearts through faith in Jesus Christ by referencing Abraham’s actionable faith in chapter 4, showing that it was the patriarch’s circumcised heart being lived out through faith that led to a circumcised flesh as a sign, proving circumcision of the flesh alone to be useless (Romans 4:9-16; Jeremiah 4:4; Deuteronomy 10:14-16; 30:6).

 

Abraham had, however, only general revelation to work from (Romans 4:10).

Paul argues from thus that it is faith in Christ that brings a total death to one’s own old moral framework of right and wrong, which he has shown in the earlier chapters to be inadequate and marred, via faith and baptism and (Romans 6:3-4).

This is because by being under grace, no longer have we any incentive to refuse repentance since the punishment that would discourage repentance (like admitting one was wrong, sinful, or wicked) has been entirely paid for. By this, the Law does not bind us (Romans 7:1-5) but rather just incites sin to war against us in the death throes of a soon-to-be-conquered kingdom (Romans 7:25; Matthew 16:17-19).

In a sense, this makes life much easier for the Gentile Christian who has never gotten the conscious correcting Law of Moses and thus has only to fight the battles against sin as they progressively learn more from the schoolmaster that is the law (Galatians 3:24; Acts 15:24-29), while Jewish converts have full knowledge of the law and thus have to combat sin in every part of life as soon as they are within Christ (Hebrews 2:19, Hebrews 1-12). 

Paul goes on to encourage believers that this life of internal war is worth the persisting battles that sin wages against us when we come to faith in Christ (Romans 8:18-25) because we have been made “…more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37, ESV).

In chapter 9…

…Paul shows that God’s not done with those who received God’s special revelation, arguing that it was because of their over-reliance on that very special revelation that they allowed themselves to stumble and that we Christians allow Israel to persist in existence by becoming the new child of promise that bears her birthright, replacing not Israel but rather those wicked generations that embody Esau.

Paul’s conclusion defeats the heresy of replacement theology in his quotation of Isaiah: Christians became the faithful remnant within apostate Israel, just like she was apostate back in Isaiah’s time, so that through the Christians Israel might be reconciled and saved (Romans 9:27-29).

Paul’s multiple quotations of the prophet Isaiah in Romans 10:18-21 shows how God going unto the Gentiles to punish Israel was specifically prophesied of and should come as no surprise. Thus, the Jewish rejection of Jesus is not evidence of the falsehood of Christianity but rather proof of it. 

In case it was not at this point already clear, Paul gives a useful illustration to explain how this process works: there is a breaking off of the branches of apostate Israel to graft on new wild branches of Gentile Christians; the tree is still the same tree meaning Israel never got replaced but rather only some of her branches. Moreover, there are even today Jewish-Christian believers.

Paul concludes that once this process is complete, then Israel will finally desire her king (Romans 11:25).

Paul spends the final 2 chapters of Romans describing how Christians rest in a sort of general-special revelation wherein the Holy Spirit renews our minds and empowers us with various gifts by which we can fulfill the law through love (Romans 12:10).

General, because it is universal to Christians; special, because He indwells only those whom He set apart.

Olive Tree in the Holy Land

To summarize…

…Humanity had a general-special revelation in the beginning but forsook it for a false, or anti-revelation that marred our ability to live by faith and caused us to live by a mental framework of what is right and wrong cursed to maintain it perpetually as it progressive degrades in our sinfulness.

Abraham was a unique man who lived by a similar kind of faith, via his general revelation, as from the beginning and so God decided that because of his faithful lifestyle He would save the world through him. From there, God gave mankind the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil again, intellectually repairing that lost knowledge of good and evil through special revelation. Then, through His son Jesus Christ, God repaired that spiritual loss of knowledge of good and evil so that we may live by faith one again and grant us a general-special revelation through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

With renewed minds and renewed spirits, one day soon the Lord Jesus will return to renew our flesh in the resurrection at the end of days so that we may once again live as we did in Eden.

References:

McQuilken, R; & Copan, P. (2014). Introduction to Biblical Ethics: Walking in the way of wisdom. Intervarsity Press.


 

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Inescapable Hope

Inescapable Hope

Inescapable Hope

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12.

 

As a sinner myself, I am personally and directly responsible for Jesus’s crucifixion; it is my sin that drove the nails through His hands, and it is my sin that brought God humiliation.

The torment of Christ is something that I deserved to experience for all eternity.

Jesus quoting Psalm 22 gives us a picture of Jesus’s spiritual state in that moment. Similar to how one quotes a movie or song to describe how one is feeling, Jesus quotes Psalm 22.

The Psalm itself describes tremendous suffering of various kinds yet ends with a steadfastness of faith that ensures trust in God. His last words, a quote of Psalm 31:5, He shows that He was unwavering in Hope.

This provides a terrifying form of suffering that the wicked must endure false hope.

If Jesus was not vindicated by the resurrection, then His Hope would have indeed been vain. Nonetheless, as an eternal Being experiencing hope deferred, He experienced spiritual sickness of an eternity of deferred hope.

Inescapable Hope

We all place hope in something.

A person who is not saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, too, has their hope in something. Perhaps it is hope in a better future, better living circumstances, or even the cessation of suffering via death.

Unfortunately, there is only one proper place to place one’s hope: The Incarnate Lord.

All other hopes are vain false hopes, and Hell is to experience an eternity of bitter deferred hope.

Even if someone were to try to abandon all hope as they enter the gates of Hell, they would still hope that the abandonment of hope might somehow produce a better existence, be it through a pseudo-death via eternal transcendental meditation or by holding to a hope of “making the best of it”.

Hope is an intrinsic part of the human experience, and the damned have an eternity of their vain hope burning in their stomachs by the logical necessity of conscious existence. 

Inescapable Hope

Jesus is the only true Hope, and only he can survive experiencing the full brunt of eternal deferred hope.

By Jesus being vindicated, so too was an eternity’s worth of deferred Hope fulfilled.

That is the same Hope that is offered to you and I through the Gospel of Christ.

How sure are you that you are placing your hope in the right thing? 

 

Inescapable Hope

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Liars Make Profits Not Prophets

Liars Make Profits Not Prophets

Liars Make Profits Not Prophets

 “Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.” – 2 Corinthians 2:17

 

The one thing we are commanded to lust after in the bible is the gift of prophecy.

Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that most of the prophets are merely to serve as the watchdogs of our faith, whose job it is to warn people who how God has promised He shall react to actions rather than to serve as fortune-telling seers.

Only a very select few of the few prophets have been given specific prophecies of the future.

A true prophet of God speaks only the truth and is bound by this burden even to his own detriment.

Only false prophets speak falsehoods, for a prophet speaks on behalf of their god and a false prophet speaks on behalf of a false god: A false god is a god of lies and so for a false prophet to speak falsehoods is how the prophet serves his god faithfully.

Who is the father of lies?

 

Who is The Truth?

 

Ask yourself:

 

  • Do you lie about how you are, how your day is going, or how your family life is fairing?

 

  • What utterances proceed from your mouth?

 

  • Do you lie, even if temporarily to make a point?

 

  • Do you lie in only the small things, or have they cascaded into even the big things as well?

 

Woe to those who claim to worship the Truth incarnated yet persist in practicing deception on any scale.

 

Do you err on the side of truth?

 

If so then listen to Him. Repent and speak only Truth; live in Truth.

He that has ears, let him hear.

 

*Title by James Thompson

 

Liars Make Profits Not Prophets

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We all travel on an individual journey on this planet earth that God has put into motion from the day we were formed in our mothers’ body. We all have deep questions that need to be answered. Why are we here? Is this all there is?

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Evidence of Repentance

Evidence of Repentance

Evidence of Repentance

“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, ‘

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’” Matthew 3:1-2

Do you feel that the kingdom of heaven has come near? It was a message preached two thousand years ago, even by the Messiah Himself right before He recruited His very first disciples (Matthew 4:17).

So, if this warning applied enough two thousand years ago for the incarnate God of the universe to find it worthy, or perhaps even necessary, to preach as the initiate teaching of His earthly ministry, how much more ought we repent now that the kingdom of God is at least partially present now before us?

It’s been two millennia since this warning was uttered and it rings true today just as much as it did back then.

I have spent a decent amount of time listening to those who have made shipwreck of their marriages.

In my experience…

…I have seen that the ones who confess their adultery to their spouse have a much more successful time reconciling and working through the tornado they’ve unleashed in their own marriage.

This is especially true when those repentant souls have already begun their own steps to free themselves from this sin either through a regular attendance to a support group, committed introspection with therapy, earnest pursuit of spiritual rejuvenation, or the common combination of all three.

When we confess, it shows that we are actively seeking to rid ourselves of our sin.

Confession is likely the biggest step in the healing process and its why it is intrinsically interlinked with repentance. It’s the first and greatest piece of evidence of repentance; you cannot solve a problem you will not admit you have.

God and the world are both sick and tired of Christians who talk a big talk yet hypocritically walk crooked walks. We do not need more insufferable whitewashed tombs; we need men and women who are brutally honest with their shortcomings.

Christians who will take off their fig leaf and expose their naked soul to God and to their neighbor: knuckleheads, dog-lappers, and Simon Peters. This is the circumcision of the heart.

This is the kingdom of heaven.

Remember this as you find those Christians unashamed and perhaps a bit too open about their past sins: rejoice, for the kingdom of heaven has come near unto you.

 

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Evidence of Repentance

Evidence of Repentance

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