Thursday, April 12, 2018

Treasure in Genealogies

Image result for adam and eve family chart to Jesus

One of the ladies in my church bible study group made a comment after one of our studies .
 She said, "I don't think there is any scripture that is not interesting ... " and then she qualified ... "except maybe genealogies." But, then in an afterthought added that even these contain interesting details of interest.
I so agree with her !!

That same night, in my personal bible reading I opened to the genealogies at the end of II Kings that carry on into I Chronicles. My attention was immediately engaged.

In I Chron. 1:28 it says this ... "The sons of Abraham were Isaac and Ishmael...." 
Wait ... something is out of order.  Genealogies are very orderly - always from father to sons in order of birth. Here we have the order reversed, since we know Ishmael was 13 years old when Isaac was born.
Then in I Chron. 1:32 we are given another surprising detail.  Abraham had six sons born to him after Isaac.  When his beloved wife Sarah died, Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. In Genesis 25:1 she is referred to as his wife, yet in the genealogy of I Chronicles she is not referred to as his wife but as his concubine.
There is another strange detail .. in the genealogy wording the six sons born by Keturah are not 'given to' Abraham.
Check references such as Gen. 35:5, Genesis 46:22, II Sam. 3:2, 5, I Chronicles 3:5 and you will see the standard pattern.  If sons are born to a man by more than one woman/wife/concubine the wording is that they were 'born to' the man 'by' the woman who bore the children.  But here, the only reference to Abraham is that these sons were born to a woman who 'happened' to be his concubine, not even giving her the respectful status of wife.

We know very little about the lives of these six sons. We do know that from one of them, Midian,  descended the Midianites who were enemies of Israel. So to surmise that these sons were not blessed, or that they chose - as Ishmael did - a wild side of life, is not unreasonable.

But .. the question arises - "Why would God reverse the birth order of Isaac and Ishmael? Why would God not record the six sons of Keturah  as 'belonging to' Abraham? And why is Keturah identified as a concubine and not a wife?

The starting point in any bible search has to be that no detail in the bible is by accident and that all scripture comes by inspiration of God -- not by the intellect or experience or opinion of man.

So the reversal of order of birth for Isaac and Ishmael , and the sons by Keturah not recorded as Abraham's  sons must have significance for us.

Perhaps it is not such a difficult thing to understand.

In Gen. 22:2 God, in speaking to Abraham, refers to Isaac as "your only son Isaac, whom you love..."  Isaac was not Abraham's only son at that time, but he was the the only son of Sarah.

God had promised Abraham a son, a promised son that would be a miracle birth, a son born to him and Sarah. (Gen. 18:10)  From the descendants of  this son, God would bring forth His people and through this son would be shown the prophetic picture that pointed to Jesus' , the coming Promised Son, who would be the sacrificial Lamb.
Abraham was the father of faith , Rom. 4:11,16.   It was only through Isaac that this blessing came down to us.  Ishmael was rejected, "cast out" as Gal. 4:30 states in a  quote from Gen. 21:10-12.

So the sons born to Abraham through Keturah, would also have to be cast out, and could not be joined to what God had purposed through the one promised son - Isaac, who would picture the One Promised Son, Jesus. God needed to keep the descendant line without confusion from the promised son to the Promised Son.   Abraham was both the father of the physical nation of Israel and  the father of faith of the spiritual people in the New Covenant. 

Thursday, April 5, 2018

I Wanna be a Pansy!

"He's such a pansy!"   Not something we consider a complement.
To call someone a 'pansy' is to insinuate that he is a wimp, weak, a sissy, someone without a backbone.
I don't know who coined the phrase or the intended meaning ... but they had it all wrong !!

My prayer is ... "Lord, make me a pansy!!!"

I bought a lovely pot of purple pansies earlier in fall -- so pretty !  and I had them sitting outside my kitchen window on the patio table, where I could enjoy them.  The temperatures changed, they turned unseasonally cold.  And then we had a snow storm!  In two hours the accumulated snow measured 6 inches on my patio table, completely covering my sweet pansies ... I looked at them and thought ... 'poor things, you'll never survive this !' .  It was not the first time they had been covered in snow and freezing temperatures but I was sure this time would be their demise.

But to my absolute astonishment and delight, when the snow finally melted, this is what I saw.

My potted pansy was not  dead at all ...  in fact it was BLOOMING !!  Several more times, this potted pansy was covered with snow, and survived.   Then in early April it was covered with hail, but yet again it emerged blooming !

 Looking at my long-suffering pansy, this quote by the apostle Paul came to mind.
It is found in II Cor. 4:8,9
 "We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed, we are perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not forsaken, struck down, but not destroyed." 

And that last photo speaks to the next verse ... 
"...always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body."

Are we like my pansy? Have we persevered through the 'winters' of our life experiences?  Do our physical bodies perhaps show the destruction caused by this earthly life, but our spirits are still 'blooming', showing forth the good fragrance of His life in us ?

I love pansies and I have tried to shelter them as a house plant.  I quickly found that they did not respond well to be being 'coddled' and I watched them die.  I'm sure every one of us would choose an 'easy life' if we were given the choice- but just like the pansies, we do not do well when everything is easy and we have no challenges or struggles . We very quickly can become spiritually lazy or  die.

"Oh Lord, make me like my pansy. Let me persevere, not with gritted teeth but with grace, never failing to bloom, even in the most dark or difficult times of my life.  May I know that the things of this earthly life cannot destroy me ..  your strength is made perfect in my weakness .. and I will stand victorious on that last day !!"