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Archive for February, 2012

Genesis 21:1, 2, “The LORD visited (Heb. paqad) Sarah as he had said. The LORD did to Sarah according to his word  . . . at the appointed time (Heb. mo’ed) that God had told him.”

The Bible is the story of God’s “visitations” of humanity at the “appointed times.”  Many times these times are not commensurate with human times.  Christians today would do well to seek out, and fall in line with God’s “appointed times,” in order to experience God’s great “visitations.”

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Genesis 20:2 is one of the saddest verses in the Bible, “Abraham said regarding Sarah, his woman, `She is my sister.” And Abimelech, King of Gerar, sent for her and took Sarah.”

It is clear in human history, that “common, decent” people have succumbed to the pressures of their time, and done just the wrong and horrible thing- just like Abraham. Many times, it happens when there is a personal or societal stake. It has resulted in much pain in human history.

Thankfully, this verse is followed by, “But God came . . .”

Thanks to God’s sovereignty and care, the vulnerable and persecuted are eventually saved from utter horror, pain and extinction.

Unfortunately, the problem lies in the distance between Genesis 20:2 and Genesis 20:3. Problems and horror created by us human beings can last a long, long time!

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The  Mission of God is based on his intense devotion to his creation- the whole universe and his people.  This is seen throughout the Bible. Following are a few examples:

“Among all the peoples, you shall be my treasured possession, for all the earth is mine.” (Exod. 19:5); “You shall be holy to me . . . you are mine.” (Lev. 20:26); “The whole earth is mine, you are foreigners and residents with me” (Lev. 25:23); “Thus says the LORD who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name. You are mine.” (Isa. 43:1) . . .  Intense words of the covenant faithfulness of God to his creation, go on and on in the Bible.

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Ancient religions, and religions of today have sought after three central divine characteristics: Light, Knowledge and Glory. In ancient times, the Jewish people sought after ‘or, the light; the Gnostics and Greeks sought after gnosis, knowledge; the Egyptians and Romans sought after doxa, glory.  Today’s religions also seek after the same three goals: Buddhism seeks enlightenment, bodhi; Hinduism seeks knowledge, jnana; Islam seeks glory, subhan Allah.

The New Testament says that all three of these three aspirations of both ancient and modern religions are found fully in the person of the human face of God, Yeshua the Messiah. “God who said, `Let light shine out of darkness,’  has shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus the Messiah.” ( 2 Corinthians 4:6)

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“You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (Adonai Yeshua Ha-Mashiach) that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor.” (2 Cor. 8:9)

The Mission model, the Missio Dei, of the Messiah, has always been the historical model of the Messianic Community, the Church.  It is sad that prosperity and riches has become the primary model in so much of the modern Church.

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“By faith Moses . . . considered the abuse suffered for the Messiah to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt,” (Hebrews 11:26).

The early followers of the Messiah were quite convinced that whenever God revealed himself to the prophets of old, it was the revelation of the Messiah. He revealed himself in times of deep crisis, as the suffering Messiah, saying, “I have seen the affliction of my people in Egypt, I have heard their cry, I know their sufferings” (Exodus 3:7). Therefore, just like the prophets of old, they also were willing to suffer “the suffering of the Messiah.”

It is worth asking the question, “Who is the Messiah of the modern Church?”

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Jesus said, “Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.”  (John 15:4)

Too much of modern day Christianity is characterized by “going” and “doing.” No wonder, many times it is very shallow. If only modern day followers of Yeshua, Jesus, would learn the art of remaining, abiding, lingering . . . in his presence. No doubt, this would lead to a deeper, more “fruitful” Christianity!

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