Category Archives: Advent Study

The Candle of the Way

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Jesus said to him, 

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life;

no one comes to the Father but through Me.

John 14:6

This Sunday was the lighting of the second Advent candle… the Bethlehem Candle or the Candle of the Way…

second-day-of-advent

The beautiful purpose for this candle is to remind us of all the prophets who proclaimed that the way of salvation would come through God through One. From the beginning the promised seed was a singular seed… their would always be only one one Son. The eyes of the people of Israel and the eyes of every people that had ever heard of the promise were always watching for the One.

There has never been many ways to the Father… their has always only been One.

To Adam and Eve came the promise of a seed…

To Noah and his wife the covenant was given to carry through great judgement…

Through Shem and his wife the promised carried on…

To Abram and Sarai the blessing was bestowed and the promise of a son of promise was given, and by faith they believed and were made new and given new names to illustrate their faith, Abraham and Sarah… when their bodies were dead out of death God would bring forth life… and Isaac would be born. Abraham would be known as the friend of God.

To Isaac and Rebekah- To Jacob and Leah… it’s funny, to this day I am still perplexed that the promised seed of God would carry through the youngest son of Leah, the wife that Jacob hated and was deceived into marrying… by human standards you would think surely it would be the first born of Rachel, the wife that Jacob loved all along, but God doesn’t do much of anything according to human reasoning and understanding… does He.

To Judah and Tamar- a woman unwed… a single mother as we would call her in our day, would carry this promised seed through their son Perez…

To Salmon and a harlot from Jericho named Rahab… to her son Boaz and a widow from Moab who would travel with her mother-in-law to meet him in a little town called Bethlehem- Ruth would have a son, who would have a son, would have a son named David… who would be the greatest king Israel would know and a man whom God would call a man after His Own heart.

To David a covenant would be made that from him would come the Son who would rule over not all of Israel, but over all the world… from him would be born the King of kings and the Lord of Lords. The promise of this son would be carried through the womb of a woman that David would be the picture of David’s lowest point in his life… a moment that would change the course of his life and the life of his family forever… Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah… Solomon would lose the majority of his father’s kingdom because of his hunger for sin and it would only be the promise of God to his father and his father’s fathers that would sustain the hope and life of this people of God.

Prophet after prophet would come and remind the people of Israel of the promise. Prophet after prophet would come to add a little more information to how the Messiah would come…

What would be the way? How would they know? Would they recognize the King? How long will it be?

  But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity.”
Therefore He will give them up until the time
When she who is in labor has borne a child.

Micah 5:2-3

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Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:

Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son,

and she will call His name Immanuel

Isaiah 7:14

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I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not near;
A star shall come forth from Jacob,
A scepter shall rise from Israel,

Numbers 24:17

There would be 400 years of silence to the people of Israel. The prophets would stop… but the promise would remain.

Then one day, when many in Israel where no longer looking, when priests and scribes had decided to come up with their own way to salvation… There would, in this day, be born the One, this Immanuel, God with us, to a young virgin girl named Mary… and this One would rock not just the nation of Israel, but the entire world, and not just for a time… but for all eternity!

The seed of promise was here! The way of salvation had come. Here He was this little child, laying in the arms of a woman who would care for Him and be smiled upon by a man named Joseph who would protect Him as his own son. They would guard Him, this treasure in a jar of clay, with their very lives… to only watch Him one day bear their own sin on His this body on a cross on a hill called Calvary…

Remembering that unless that seed dies… it cannot bring forth life.

The enemy of the promise thought he had won… after all he had watched the seed of promise pass from father to son for thousands of years… he had tried for ages to destroy it… but had never been able to succeed… and now finally he had done it!

This seed of promise was dead… with no son to carry on the promise… so the enemy of the promise thought.

The enemy didn’t catch that unless the seed dies it cannot bring forth life… the sons that would be born of this seed would not be according to the flesh.

 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

John 1:12-14

His death would be the way of salvation for all who would believe.

Those who would follow Him would even be known as the people of the Way…

But this I admit to you, that according to the Way which they call a sect I do serve the God of our fathers, believing everything that is in accordance with the Law and that is written in the Prophets; having a hope in God…

Acts 24:14-15

Before they were known as Christians as they were known as the Way… because He had said to them…

 

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life;

no one comes to the Father but through Me.

John 14:6

The Last Advent Post for the Candle of Hope

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Today is the last post from the candle of hope… tomorrow we light the candle of the way.

So far we have looked at hope through the eyes of Creation, Eve, Rahab, and Ruth… today we will look at hope through the eyes of a woman named Bathsheba.

So David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”

2 Samuel 11:3

As I researched the name of Bathsheba, what I learned was that her name meant, daughter of an oath.

From the knowledge of this definition of her name, I found myself researching oaths in Scripture…

This is the word which the Lord has commanded. If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.

Numbers 30:1-2

The whole chapter of Numbers 30 teaches us how God feels about oaths, about vows, about promises that we make with the words of our mouth. I encourage you to read the whole chapter because these are the statutes which the Lord commanded Moses, as between a man and his wife, and as between a father and his daughter, while she is in her youth in her father’s house (Numbers 30:16).

Bathsheba, daughter of an oath, the wife of Uriah… this woman did not belong to David… she never did… and she never would. She was the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah.

In the New Testament, in the book of Matthew when we read the ancestry of Christ, in the English translation we read…

David was the father of Solomon by Bathsheba who had been the wife of Uriah.

Matthew 1:6

However, in the original language Bathsheba’s name is not written, it simply reads, David moreover begat the Solomon out of the one who had been wife of Uriah…

When I researched the definition of Uriah’s name I discovered that it meant, the flame of God.

Solomon’s name comes from the Hebrew word shalom which means peace.

David’s name comes from the Hebrew word dod which means beloved or love.

So we could read this verse in Matthew as the Beloved moreover begat the Peace out of the Flame of God

Now go with me for a moment into my train of thought…

Beloved {…for God is love (1 John 4:8)}

moreover begat the Peace {…so that in Me you may have peace. (John 16:33), For He Himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14)}

out of the Flame of God {And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:3-4), The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35)}

Our God begot the Son according to the flesh out of the Holy Spirit within the womb of a woman because of the oath of hope He made to a woman in the very beginning… an oath that came as the result of a great transgression that was rooted in deception against an oath between God and His beloved

 

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.

Genesis 3:15

Bringing it now back to Bathsheba… the daughter of an oath. There have been many who have tried to condemn Bathsheba in this predicament of David’s. Yet I see nothing in Scripture where God condemns her… as a matter of fact God never gives ownership of her to David… always in Scripture she is the wife of Uriah.

David sent messengers and took her, and when she came to him, he lay with her; and when she had purified herself from her uncleanness, she returned to her house. 

2 Samuel 11:4

David took her. She did not come a calling. It appears to me that he took her against her will and raped her. We see clearly in Scripture that she grieved over this transgression. We see her unwilling to cover for David and allow him to not be held accountable for what he did to her.

The woman conceived; and she sent and told David, and said, “I am pregnant.”

2 Samuel 11:5

Now when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband.

2 Samuel 11:26

The word for mourned in this verse is saphad and it means to tear the hair and beat the breasts; generally to lament; by implication, to wail — lament. Bathsheba was a broken woman and she was broken by the hands of David… who would now take responsibility for her and God would redeem this crazy twisted mess through the son of Bathsheba, the daughter of an oath, would have a son who would be the one who would carry the oath of the Son of David who would be the very Son of God, Jesus the Messiah.

Bathsheba was a woman who held on to an oath and was not afraid to call a king on it. As we look at the wives of David, she is the only wife who ever walks into David’s chamber and demands he keep his word. She did it respectfully… but she indeed did it. 

 So Bathsheba went in to the king in the bedroom. Now the king was very old, and Abishag the Shunammite was ministering to the king. Then Bathsheba bowed and prostrated herself before the king. And the king said, “What do you wish?” She said to him, “My lord, you swore to your maidservant by the Lord your God, saying, ‘Surely your son Solomon shall be king after me and he shall sit on my throne.’ Now, behold, Adonijah is king; and now, my lord the king, you do not know it. 

1 Kings 1:15-18

She was daughter of an oath… and oaths were meant to be kept. As we consider Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah, in the lineage of our Christ as we look at this candle of hope in Advent… what I see is that she is a another picture of Romans 8:28

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

Romans 8:28

I can’t imagine the hurt this woman experienced as she was taken by the highest authority in her land, conceived a child through a sexual encounter, had her husband killed by the one who took her, then looses the life of the child because of the sin of the one who took her… how she must have felt like a powerless pawn in the hands of man.

Yet, at the same time I see a woman filled with the hope of the knowledge of an eternally good God. One who knew oaths were meant to be kept and God Himself watched over them… this was her hope and this is our hope. God’s Word is true…

Forever, O Lord,
Your word is settled in heaven.

Psalm 119:89

 

We will see this even more next week as we look at our next candle in the Advent wreath… the Candle of the Way.

Adventskranz 1. Advent

Hope from a Harlot

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Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope for His lovingkindness,

Psalm 33:18

In our first Advent post we looked at the candle of hope through the life of Ruth… as we continue to look at the female ancestry, according to the flesh, of our Savior this Advent, let me first ask you, where do you think Boaz, the husband of Ruth, got his heart for her?

Have you ever pondered why this man… this mature wealthy upstanding Israelite, would be willing to risk it all for this destitute young widow from Moab? 

Could it possibly be that because this man Boaz was the son of a woman from Jericho named Rahab?

Then Joshua the son of Nun sent two men as spies secretly from Shittim, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” So they went and came into the house of a harlot whose name was Rahab, and lodged there. 

Joshua 2:1

Rahab in the Hebrew is rachab and it simply means a harlot in Jericho. The word origin is a verb and means enlarge, to be or grow wide or large, make room, make open wide. It can also be translated as extends, rejoice, relieved, speaks boldly.

Ponder with me for a moment on this woman we all know only by, hey- she’s a harlot in Jericho. I doubt seriously that her mother gave birth to this young woman, and held her in her arms and looked up to her husband with his proud beaming eyes and said, honey, let’s name her Rahab, she will be the best whore Jericho has ever known!

We will never know, this side of eternity, the name by which she was called when she was carried by her father and held closely to her mother’s chest… but we know that she loved her family. She loved them so much that she was willing to risk her own life and dignity to provide for them and to save their lives.

Now therefore, please swear to me by the Lord, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, and spare my father and my mother and my brothers and my sisters, with all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.”

Joshua 2:12-13

We also know that she feared the Lord our God. She has heard about the God of Israel. She had heard what happened in Egypt. What we see in her, is that she placed no faith or allegiance to the gods of Jericho… she was a woman who seemed to recognize pretense when she saw it. Yet, she also recognized truth.

I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you. For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. When we heard it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, please swear to me by the Lord, since I have dealt kindly with you, that you also will deal kindly with my father’s household, and give me a pledge of truth, 

Joshua 2:9-12

This woman was known as a harlot in Jericho, but she displayed the original verb form of this name by which she was called…

She was not out just for herself, she expanded the scope her hope of salvation to her whole household. She was out to enlarge not to belittle. Her door was open wide to the spies… not for business… but for protection. She was willing to make room in her home for them and she was not afraid to ask that their doors be opened wide for her and her family. She was not afraid to ask these men who were enemies of her land to make room for her and her whole family in theirs. She spoke boldly.

I am sure she also breathed relief and rejoiced when the spies said…

 “Our life for yours if you do not tell this business of ours; and it shall come about when the Lord gives us the land that we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”

The men said to her, “We shall be free from this oath to you which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the land, you tie this cord of scarlet thread in the window through which you let us down, and gather to yourself into the house your father and your mother and your brothers and all your father’s household. 

Joshua 2:14, 17-18

 

So Rahab gathered her family and she hung that cord of scarlet in her window and she waited for the hope of their salvation…

How fitting it would be that one day her son, whom she would name Boaz, would take for a wife a Moab widow named Ruth… whose name meant cord.

He would be this woman’s hope as that scarlet cord that hung in the window of a home in Jericho was his mother’s.

Who better than he, would know not to judge a woman by her circumstances but judge her by her heart. Who better than he would not be turned away from a foreigner, but would be willing to open wide and make room for her in his heart and home. Who better than he would see this woman through eyes of mercy and grace…

How beautiful it is that God records their names, these particular names, for us, in the lineage of His Son. His Son who takes a bride of sketchy background and harlotry ways and redeems her and gives her HOPE. Who with arms open wide and a heart enlarged, speaks boldly on behalf of His bride, His family- the children of God- and makes room for them in the land of Eternity…

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.

John 14:1-3

Rahab knew what it was to make room and to have room made… and I have no doubt that within the heart of her son she spoke the same truth… take them as they are son… extend hope, extend grace, extend mercy, trust in the One True Living God… and obey Him, love all as you have been loved… let God be God… when you see a chance to save, to help, to restore, to redeem… do it… make room.

 

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.

Psalm 4:1

Hope in the Palm Tree

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Now Judah took a wife for Er his firstborn, and her name was Tamar.

Genesis 38:6

This Advent as I ponder the candle of hope… and look at the ancestors of Christ… it was not my original intent to share of the female ancestry, but it seems I keep going there. So far we have looked at Ruth and Eve. This morning when I pondered who I would study, my mind went to Tamar. Since this seems to be the pattern that God is setting in my heart… the rest of the week we will continue to look at hope through the lives of the women in the lineage of Christ.

The story of Judah is a twisted one. One of the most mind-blowing, yet at the same time relief-giving realizations in the Scriptures is the fact that God works His redemption plan through the lives of some desperately wicked people. God doesn’t hide their sickness. He lets us plainly see the incurable nature of their sin and the effects of its disease within us and how it affects others as well.

We are all Enosh… incurable, desperately sick, desperately wicked… we all need a Savior.

Judah was no different… neither was the woman we will look at today- Tamar.

When ever in the Scriptures, God says something like, their name was…  I encourage you to take the time to look up the meaning of that name. There is a reason God recorded it and protected it for thousands of years.

When I looked up Tamar this morning I learned that in the Hebrew her name means palm tree. I read that and I thought, well okay… palm tree. Hmmmmm…. what on earth does that mean? So, I researched palm trees and what I learned made me go, Oooooh, PALM TREE!

Yes, I love wikipedia… so to wikipedia we go. Here is some information on palm trees. I have put in bold the information that made me go, Ooooooh PALM TREE!:

The Arecaceae are a botanical family of perennial lianas, shrubs, and trees commonly known as palms. (Due to historical usage, the family is alternatively called Palmae or Palmaceae.) They are flowering plants, the only family in the monocot order Arecales.

Most palms are distinguished by their large, compound, evergreen leaves arranged at the top of an unbranched stem. However, many palms are exceptions, and in fact exhibit an enormous diversity in physical characteristics. As well as being morphologically diverse, palms also inhabit nearly every type of habitat within their range, from rainforests to deserts.

Palms are among the best known and most extensively cultivated plant families. They have been important to humans throughout much of history. Many common products and foods are derived from palms, and palms are also widely used in landscaping for their exotic appearance, making them one of the most economically important plants. In many historical cultures, palms were symbols for such ideas as victory, peace, and fertility. 

Whether as shrubs, trees, or vines, palms have two methods of growth: solitary or clustered. The common representation is that of a solitary shoot ending in a crown of leaves. This monopodial character may be exhibited by prostrate, trunkless, and trunk-forming members. Some common palms restricted to solitary growth include Washingtonia and Roystonea. Palms may instead grow in sparse though dense clusters. The trunk develops an axillary bud at a leaf node, usually near the base, from which a new shoot emerges. The new shoot, in turn, produces an axillary bud and a clustering habit results. Exclusively sympodial genera include many of the rattansGuihaia, and Rhapis. Several palm genera have both solitary and clustering members. Palms which are usually solitary may grow in clusters, and vice versa. These aberrations suggest the habit operates on a single gene.

Visions Palm-Trees

What I love about our God is His attention always to detail.

You see Judah’s son would be the appointed line of the Messiah…

Then I began to weep greatly because no one was found worthy to open the book or to look into it; and one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” 

Revelation 5:4-5

However God had specifically chosen not only Judah’s son… but that this son would be born from the womb of Tamar. God chose Judah, but He had also chosen Tamar, just as He had chosen Sarah, just as He had chosen Rebekah.

The deceitfulness of man will never stop the purpose of God.

Judah’s sons were wicked, yet Judah was convinced Tamar was the curse. Judah then showed his own wickedness as he took this “prostitute” and then, when he discovered Tamar pregnant from doing the very same thing he had done, he was ready to stone her…

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” 

John 8:3-5

Tamar sent strong convicting evidence, of the one by whom she had conceived, to Judah. When Tamar presented the proof of the one whose child she carried… Judah was in a pickle.

He could still stone her to not expose his own sin, to save his own face, but to kill her, he would have to kill his own child… Judah instead humbled himself, admitted his own hypocrisy, and lifted Tamar up, and brought her home.

But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

John 8:6-7 

Judah forgave her and dropped his stone out of mutual guilt, and not just that, but he also took Tamar’s sin upon himself. What she did was not right, she had still committed adultery, and with her father-in-law, which would be condemned in writing when the Law would be recorded by the hand of Moses on the top of Mount Sinai. Yet Judah, knew that what she did, was a result of his own sin against her. He was supposed to protect her and provide for her, but he had forsaken her.

Judah forgives her and she him and they are reconciled and Perez, one of the twins that would be born to them, would have a son, who would have a son, who would one day be married to a girl who would have a son, who would forgive, not out of mutual guilt but out of abundant mercy and grace.

and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

John 8:9-11

When Judah brought Tamar home, he did not bring her home to be his wife… but to be the mother of their son. Forgiveness and reconciliation is only complete when followed by, go and sin no more…

And he did not have relations with her again.

Genesis 38:26

Had Judah taken Tamar as a wife, then the whole redemptive picture of this moment would be maligned. It would now become a sick perverted twisted modern day American sitcom, but that is not what this moment in time in the lives of Judah and Tamar, in the lineage of our Christ, was about… not at all.

If we read this picture, and others recorded for us in the Scriptures, of our human failures and yet God’s unrelenting faithfulness, and see in it permission to sin… we are blind. Blind to the beauty of the grace of God. Blind to the cost of the blood that flowed willingly from the side of a man who cried, Father forgive them they no not what they do…

Blind to the One who is our HOPE.

The One born from Judah and woman named Tamar… the One who hung on a tree for us. The One who stems from the Only Unbranched Stem of God, the One who would build a church that would exhibit an enormous diversity in physical characteristics and would inhabit nearly every type of habitat within their range, from rainforests to deserts. The One who would be the firstborn of the best known and most extensively cultivated family on earth important to humans throughout much, no all, of history. The One who would not just be symbols for such ideas as victory, peace, and fertility but would be our Victory, our Peace, and our Eternal Life! The One’s whose family operates on a single gene. The seed of God!

Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. 

Galatians 3:16

Adventskranz 1. Advent

The Beginning of Hope (Part 2)

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It is Genesis that we see The Beginning of Hope

Sin entered the world with the fall of mankind… through Adam and Eve, yet in their sin God provided hope.

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.

Genesis 3:15

 It would be in the space between, that redemption would come.

Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living”

Genesis 3:20

 It would be in that space between the word of God and the flesh of God that redemption would be possible. The moment when the two become one.

She Will Bear

 

Now the man had relations with his wife Eve, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, “I have gotten a manchild with the help of the Lord.”

Genesis 4:1

Eve knew the way of redemption had come… Right here we see her hope! In hope against hope she believed… that through her seed God would restore what they had destroyed. However… Cain was not the appointed one. Eve would bear other sons… we know the names of three… Cain, Able, and Seth.

Cain would kill Abel. Seth would be conceived and born after this murder.

Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for, she said, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.” To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.

Genesis 4:25-26

 

Cain is qayin in the Hebrew, and it means spear.

Abel is hebel in the Hebrew, and it means vapor, breath, vanity, worthless, useless.

Lord, make me to know my end, And what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am. Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Surely every man walks about as a phantom;

Psalm 39:4-6

 

Seth is Sheth and it comes from shith and it means to put, set, appoint, fixed position, to place.

 

Enosh in the Hebrew comes from the word anash and it means incurable, desperately sick, desperately wicked. 

 Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.

Genesis 4:26

 

I believe Eve thought she and Adam had provided their own salvation- Cain, with the help of God of course. Yet, this was not the case. The spear would pierce through this useless, vain, worthless, breath of Adam and Eve. They would see that they are but a vapor and strivings for their own salvation would get them nowhere. They were created in the image of God, yet this flesh that enslaved them was fit only for death.

They would then have Seth. This son would be the set, appointed, line of redemption for all mankind. It would be through the lineage from Adam to Seth that the Son of the promise of Genesis 3:15 would come. The Messiah. The Christ. Jesus the Son of God.

Yet, Seth did not come until they understood that salvation would be the work of God alone… not theirs with the help of God, but God alone.

Seth, in the naming of his son, would declare the set state of mankind.

Seth would have a son, he would name him Enosh… incurable, desperately sick, desperately wicked… Seth would stand and say, This is our lot. We are sick. We are incurable. We are desperately wicked. We have no hope within ourselves.

Then men began to call upon the name of the Lord.

Genesis 4:26

The child that would save mankind from the chains of sin would not be a seed of Adam… but the very Son of God.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. 

Isaiah 7:14

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For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;

Isaiah 9:6

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“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

John 3:16

Redemption would come, hope would come in the space between, in that blessed interval moment in time when the flesh of man and the Life of God would collide and the two would become one, the God-Man, the Word made flesh, would come and dwell among us… and when Cain would rise up to kill him as he did Abel… He would discover that this One was not a mere vapor or breath… this One was God Incarnate, Immanuel. The One who would save His people from their sin.

 

The Beginning of Hope

PPM-3.jpg

 

The first time the word hope is used in the Scriptures is in the book of Ruth, but where is the picture of hope first seen in the Scriptures?

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. 

Genesis 1:1-5

In my book Devotions from Genesis I shared how I thought the fall of Satan occurred between Genesis 2 and Genesis 3. Somewhere between God saying, it was very good and reading now the serpent was more crafty… 

I still believe his fall to the earth could have happened at that time… but as I have grown in my knowledge of the Word I believe the rebellion in the heavens occurred right here in the beginning.

I also believe here in the beginning is our first picture of hope.

Satan sets himself up as an equal of God, a created being demanding to be worshipped as the Creator. He gathers followers as he stands in this rebellion. This one who thought he himself could ascend above the throne of the Most High and could set himself above the stars of God…

God creates the heavens and the earth.

The word and in Genesis 1:1 is eth.

In the Hebrew this word and is in the accusative case. 

The accusative case (abbreviated acc) of a noun is the grammatical case used to mark the direct object of a transitive verb. The same case is used in many languages for the objects of (some or all)prepositions. It is a noun that is having something done to it, usually joined (such as in Latin) with the nominative case. The syntactical functions of the accusative consist of designating the immediate object of an action, the intended result, the goal of a motion, and the extent of an action. (information from wikipedia)

This Hebrew word eth is apparent contracted from ‘owth in the demonstrative sense of entity; properly, self (but generally used to point out more definitely the object of a verb or preposition, even or namely)

The Hebrew word owth means sign, mark, miracle and it probably comes from ‘uwth (in the sense of appearing); a signal (literally or figuratively), as a flag, beacon, monument, omen, prodigy, evidence, etc. — mark, miracle, (en)sign, token.

Now why on earth did I just take you down this path of definitions… just hang with me… and know that I am not a scholar, this is just the thoughts of a small town girl living in love with the Word.

Let us just suppose that the great rebellion occurred in the highest heavens and in this rebellion came darkness… the separation of God from His rebelling creation. In this God forms this heaven and this earth. This heaven and earth created as a sign, a monument, a mark, evidence of the rebellion.

Now the Spirit of God hovers over the formless and void and dark earth… the surface of the deep darkness… and God says no. No it will not remain in formless, void, darkness… Let there be light.

Let there be hope!

Can you see it precious one? Can you see the glory of our God, in His omnipotent power, the beautiful workings of His hands of mercy and grace and life and light as He works the wonders of the universe? I am convinced that there is so much more to this story of creation and darkness and light and good and evil than will ever be revealed to us here in this mortality… but something in the depths of my being knows that it is an epic tale of the utmost proportions. One that our finite minds cannot even begin to comprehend and into the ages of the ages we will sit at the feet of our Elohim and hang on His every word as He tells us of the story behind The Story.

God separated the light from the darkness… the word separated here is bayin and it means between, an interval, a space between. 

Darkness might be here. This rebellion has occurred, but there would always be a space between the light and the darkness… a chasm so great that the two would never be able to dwell together. The earth would be a sign, a mark, a monument to this separation. This creation, would be an interval of time between the rebellion in the heavens and the complete destruction of the rebels, but the effects of their rebellion would be carried out to completion as would the redemption of the light of all creation.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 

Romans 8:18-21

Here lies the beautiful picture of hope… let there be light.

We reside here in this interval, this space between. We dwell here today on this earth, this monument, this object of the action of the verb created, the intended result, the goal of a motion, and the extent of an action. The action that the Spirit of God hovers upon calling out for us, those created in His image, to come to the light.

 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

John 3:19-20

Here lies the hope…

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

John 8:12

 

Wait there’s more… The Beginning of Hope Part 2

 

Candle of Hope

The first Sunday in the month of December begins Advent. Just in case you are wondering what this whole advent thing is, let’s go to wikipedia.

Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus atChristmas. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”.

Latin adventus is the translation of the Greek word parousia, commonly used to refer to the Second Coming of Christ. For Christians, the season of Advent anticipates the coming of Christ from two different perspectives. The season offers the opportunity to share in the ancient longing for the coming of the Messiah, and to be alert for his Second Coming.

One tradition accompanying Advent is the Advent wreath.

Adventskranz 1. Advent

Four or five candles depending on how many Sundays is used and each candle has a specific meaning.

The readings for the first Sunday in Advent relate to the old testament patriarchs who were Christ’s ancestors, so some call the first advent candle that of hope.

I have looked up a few advent readings for 2013, but they all began in the New Testament so I am going for the challenge of putting together my own readings this week to share with you. They will all come from the Old Testament. They will all also come from those who are revealed to us as the lineage of Christ according the flesh.

When I looked up the word hope in the Scriptures, I discovered that the first occurrence of this word, according to the NASB, is in the book of Ruth. Ruth is the great-grandmother of King David who is in the lineage of Christ. How fitting that the first occurrence of the word hope would be concerning a woman who would bear a child, who would one day bear a child, who would bear The Child.

Return, my daughters! Go, for I am too old to have a husband. If I said I have hope, if I should even have a husband tonight and also bear sons, would you therefore wait until they were grown? 

Ruth 1:12-13

The word for hope here in the Hebrew is tiqvah and it means cord. Figuratively it means expectation, hope, live, thing that I long for. In this verse Naomi is speaking to Ruth and to her other daughter-in-law as well. Naomi has decided that her situation is hopeless, and that these two young women need to return to their parents house and go on about their lives.

However, Ruth will not hear of it.

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. Thus may the Lord do to me, and worse, if anything but death parts you and me.”

Ruth 1:16-17

Ruth did not know what the future held, but Ruth held on to Naomi. She refused to walk away from this woman and leave her all alone. She would go with her, husband or no husband. Naomi had lost hope, but Ruth had not. I often wonder what kind of life Ruth had before she met Naomi’s family. What had this Moabite woman been rescued from as she became the bride of this Israelite man?

The Moabites worshiped a god named Chemosh. Chemosh had a taste for blood.  In 2 Kings 3:27 we find that human sacrifice was a part of the rites of Chemosh. What would it have been like to be the child in a home that sacrificed their children into the arms of a fired filled false deity? I can’t even imagine being raised in that type of culture.

Can you just imagine this woman who has known child sacrifice as normal, meeting this family who serves the One True God who forbids such rites and values life? What would it have been like to learn about a God that commanded His people to love Him and to love their neighbor? What would it have been like for Ruth to meet a God who had revealed Himself as a God of compassion, mercy, and kindness?

Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished…

Exodus 34:6-7

I can almost hear the inner thoughts of Ruth. Leave Naomi? Leave their God? Leave this Hope?

No, leave Ruth would not.

She did not know what the future held as she walked into Bethlehem with this woman she now claimed as her own mother, but she knew she would keep walking forward into the unknown before she even considered turning back to the past.

Hope is found in the future. Hope is found pressing forward. Hope is trusting in something yet to come, but walking in full assurance that it is indeed to come.

And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.

Romans 8:23-25

Ruth had been given a first fruit of God when she entered into this family. She received her first taste of something so beautiful and tender that even though she groaned in this present loss of her husband, her brother-in-law, and her father-in-law facing, this groaning was worth the hope that she had found in this family.

She could not see what was coming next, but she was learning about this God of her deceased husband. She was learning about this God of her mother-in-law Naomi, and she wanted this God to be her God. She wanted this family to be her family.

She wanted this Hope to be her hope. She had grabbed hold of the cord of Christ. She grabbed hold of the scarlet thread of redemption that has woven its way all through history. She grabbed hold of Hope and she was not letting go.

As we close out this year we are one year closer to the return of our Lord. As you consider His advent, His coming, are there things that you have placed your hope in other than Him? What or who are you clinging to? Have you said goodbye to the past and grabbed hold of the redemptive cord of Christ? With perseverance are you eagerly watching for Him?