Standing Upon Godly Shoulders – part 2

In part one, we were looking at some of the notable players in the ages-old battle between good and evil.

Those players on the side of evil, (devil followers), were categorized as the inhabitants of the ‘city of the earth-born, the city of man, or the earthly Jerusalem.’ The first so-called inhabitant was the murderous Cain, brother of Abel.

The players that followed God were described as the citizens of ‘heavenly Jerusalem, or the city of God’ – which has its ultimate manifestation on a heavenly plane. The first inhabitant of this city was Abel, who possessed the godly shoulders that was our first foundation to stand upon, to find the strength for walking the path to that same city.

Abel’s brother Seth was the next continuation of the heavenly citizenry; but by the time of the great flood many generations later, Noah was the only living representative of the city of God, who, along with his wife and his three sons and their wives, re-populated the earth after the flood wiped out the rest of sinful humankind.

A millennium would pass before we meet our next citizen of renown of the city of God…

Abraham was 75 years when God called him directly:

“Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation: I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing…and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Gn. 12:1: – 3. NKJV

What we see here, is that God promises Abraham that his seed shall inherit the land of Canaan; moreover, that the blessings of God would trickle down from him to spiritually nurture the rest of people of the world for all time. Consider too, that for God’s initial promise to be fulfilled, Abraham and his wife would have to bear children. Remember that they are in their 70s.

Yet Abraham has full-faith in God’s promises, which motivates his obedience; and he and his family leave all that they have ever known, and make a 1500-mile trek to Canaan, whereby God gives Abraham a second promise:

“To your descendants I will give this land.” Gn. 12:7 NKJV

After Abraham and his wife settled and thrived in Canaan, his nephew Lot and his family (who had accompanied Abraham on his journey) moved to the city of Sodom, (which turned out to be a dark, grievously sinful ‘city of the earth-born’). At that point, God gives Abraham yet a third compliment to His first two promises:

“Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward, eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the offspring of the earth, your offspring can be counted.” Gn. 13:14 – 16. ESV

Being that Canaan will become the future country of Israel, God is telling Abraham that the land will belong to the Israelites until the end of time.

Five years elapse. God visits Abraham again, and promises safety and great rewards. But this time, Abraham’s favor wavers a bit. He complains to God because he is still childless. God responds:

“…one from your own body shall become your heir…Look now toward heaven and count the stars if you are able to number them…so shall your descendants be.” Gn. 15:4, 5. NKJV

Abraham’s faith is renewed to such an extent, that God brings him into complete right-standing with Him:

And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness. Gn. 15:6 NKJV

So, we have the ‘city of God’ increasing its citizenship once more.

Unfortunately, his wife Sarah’s faith is not as strong. She’s tired of waiting and has Abraham conceive with their Egyptian maid, Hagar, and Ishmael is born. Abraham is 86 years-old.

Thirteen more years pass. God visits Abraham, (who is 99 years-old), and tells him that his faith is being rewarded, as Sarah’s birth is imminent. In addition, He makes it crystal-clear to Abraham what the disposition of his children will be:

“…Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. As for Ishmael…I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly…and I will make him a great nation. But I will establish my covenant with Isaac…” Gn. 17:19 – 21. ESV

What we are seeing is that Ishmael will propagate the seed of the Arabic nations, increasing the population of the ‘city of the earth-born;’ but Isaac is God’s child of promise, Abraham’s heir apparent to the city of God.

Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old; yet God had one more thing in store for Abraham:

After these things, God tested Abraham… Gn. 22:1 ESV

God told Abraham to take his son, Isaac, and sacrifice him upon an altar as a burnt offering to Jehovah. (This was so that God could provide what the picture of ultimate faith looked like for future believers, not for Himself. He knew Abraham’s heart.

Abraham prepared an altar (on the same site that Jesus would be crucified), and placed Isaac upon it – all the while telling his son that God would provide a lamb to be sacrificed. (Gn. 22:8)

Abraham had faith in that at the very least, God would raise Isaac from the dead because of the previous promise that He made to him:

By faith Abraham, when he was tested [that is, as the testing of his faith was still in progress], offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises [of God] was ready to sacrifice his only son [of promise]; to whom it was said, “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.” For he considered it reasonable to believe] that God was able to raise Isaac even from among the dead. [Indeed, in the sense that he was prepared to sacrifice Isaac in obedience to God] Abraham did receive him back [from the dead] figuratively speaking. Heb. 11:17 – 19. AMP

When Abraham drew his knife back to slay his son on the altar, the Angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and stopped him from harming Isaac and provided for them a ram for a sacrifice instead. And because of the depth of Abraham’s faith, God provides him with His last promise:

“…I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice.” Gn. 22:17, 18. ESV

Abraham remarried and had additional children, but they did not possess the covenantal promise that Isaac did. He was the chosen son for the lineage for the city of God:

After the death of Abraham, God blessed Isaac his son. Gn. 25:11 ESV

Abraham was a mountain of faith for us to stand upon, propagated by his son in the city of God. Isaac and his wife Rebekah conceived fraternal twins, but that’s another story…

Goodnight and God bless.

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God Calls You to Further His Kingdom

I don’t know how He’s going to do that for you, or what part God will want you to play; but call you He will…

Way back in antiquity, the earthly reflection of God’s kingdom was in tatters:

The Lord saw that the wickedness (depravity) of man was great on the earth, and that every imagination or intent of the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually. Gn. 6:5 AMP

God’s initial thought was to wipe the earth clean of His wayward creations, and have a do-over. Yet God loved them so much that He decided to scan the planet to see if He could find anyone who might help Him further His kingdom. He still does this today:

God looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God. Ps. 53:2 NKJV

Fortuitously for us, He found one:

Noah was a righteous man [one who was just and had right standing with God], blameless in his [evil] generation; Noah walked (lived) [in habitual fellowship] with God. Gn. 6:9 AMP

This would infer that it helps us to be prepared for and active in our walk with God to be available for advancing His kingdom. Thank God, that Noah was available, giving God a vehicle (through Noah’s obedience) to give mankind a second chance to populate that same kingdom.

God called on Noah to build an ark to house him, his wife, his three sons and their wives, and a male and female of every living species of animal. Why? Because God said He’s going to flood the earth – an event that wouldn’t happen for another 120 years!

The inhabitants of the earth at that time had never witnessed such a phenomenon. Can you imagine the ridicule Noah and his family must have had thrust upon them by anyone who had met them during this construction period? In explaining their actions, they would have responded by effectively preaching the word of God – even if the hearers rejected it. How did Noah respond?

By faith [with confidence in God and His word] Noah, being warned by God about events not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his family. By this [act of obedience] he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness which comes by faith. Heb. 11:7 AMP

So, we also see that having faith in God, is necessary for us to be candidates for furthering His kingdom. The fact that you and I are here, is testimony of Noah’s right preparation and actions in advancing God’s purpose.

Ten generations after Noah, God called upon Abraham to enlarge His kingdom:

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing…and in you all of the families will be blessed.” Gn. 12:1 – 3. ESV

This is an enormous test of faith. God is telling Abraham to take his wife, his nephew and a few of his servants, and leave all that he’s ever known – to make a 1500-mile trek to Canaan, a land that he’s never seen, to be part of God’s seminal nation, to propagate it. Mind you, he and his wife were in their 70’s, but Abraham takes God at His word, i.e. exercising more of that kingdom-advancing faith.

Abraham, who is considered the biblical paragon of faith, did waiver in his faith a few times, but he always got back on track. This should give us encouragement, knowing that God will strengthen our faith (if we ask Him to) so that we can transcend our shortcomings.

There was also the matter of Abraham’s promised child. He waited 25 years for that promise to be fulfilled. Like Abraham, we too need to keep faith in that God is using our efforts to promote His plan, knowing that we have no idea when we will see the fruits of our labor.

Now, let’s consider Moses. He had escaped Egypt to flee the wrath of Pharaoh, settling into a new life as a sheepherder in what is now modern-day Saudi Arabia.  As you know, one day Moses is out tending his sheep when God manifests Himself to him as a burning bush; and He charges him with the task of freeing His children from the Pharaoh’s oppression and leading them to the Promised Land.

Moses immediately lets fear lead him to resist God’s imperative. He wails about what He should do if the people don’t believe that he is representing God. God in turn displays miracles for Moses to convince him of His power, as a demonstration of what He will do through Moses, to convince His children.

Unconvinced, Moses pleads with God to send someone else because he is not a good public speaker. God tells Moses that He will teach him how to be. Moses still doubts, and God grants him a slight concession by sending Moses’ older brother Aaron to speak for Him.

What is God doing? He is equipping Moses with the skills and power to accomplish His purpose. God takes this frightened sheepherder and transforms him into a leader, who, through God, frees His children, performs a plethora of miracles while leading them to the Promised Land, and Holy Spirit-inspires Moses to write the first five books of the Bible.

God worked all of this through someone who was deathly afraid of answering God’s call. There are several other examples of this in the Bible, but I believe we have a good picture by now. The question is, ‘Will you answer God when He calls?’

We’ve seen that God can use anyone, at any age, with whatever fears they may have, to accomplish His kingdom purposes. One reason that is possible is that God has already equipped us to do so:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Eph. 2:10 NKJV

We are all part of God’s plan. He makes sure that we are up to whatever task He assigns to us. Still, to best serve God, we must prepare our awareness, so that we can hear His summons. We do that by becoming intimately related with Him through His word:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Tim. 3:16, 17. NKJV

God would never ask you to walk a path (your part in His plan) that you could not traverse to attain His end goal. He will supply the faith that you need through His Son (Heb. 12:2); and through Christ, He will give you every skill and power to make it happen. (Phil. 4:13).

God will call each and every one of us. It may be at a time or in such a way as we never would have guessed; it may be a task that seems overwhelming, or what appears to be simple yet vital for the completion of the kingdom of God. And if we keep our spiritual eyes and ears open, we can be ready when He calls…

“Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther. 4:14 NKJV

Goodnight and God bless.