All Authority

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.                                                                                 Matthew 28:18.

They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.”                                                                                                              Mark 1:27.

Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, Your sins are forgiven; or to say, Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk?  But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins; He said to the paralytic, I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.                                                                                                 Mark 2:9-11.

And the devil said to Him, “I’ll give to You all this authority along with its glory, because it has been handed over to me and I can give it to anyone I wish.    Luke 4:6.

But I will show you whom you should fear. Fear the One who, after the killing, has authority to cast into Gehenna.                                                                 Luke 12:5.

Day after day when I was with you in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the authority of darkness are yours.                                     Luke 22:53.

Also He has given the Son authority to judge, because He is the Son of Man.  John 5:27.

For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life, so that I may take it up again. No one takes it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it up again. This command I received from My Father.                                                                                                     John 10:17,18.

So Pilate said to Him, You aren’t speaking to me? Don’t You know that I have the authority to release You, and I have the authority to crucify You? Yeshua answered, You would have no authority over Me if it hadn’t been given to you from above. For this reason, the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.     John 19:10,11.

He answered them, It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority.                                                            Acts 1:7.

To open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.                                   Acts 26:18.

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same.                                                               Romans 13:1-3.

For even if I boast a little more about our authority which the Lord gave for building you up and not for tearing you down,  I will not be put to shame.       2 Corinthians 10:8.

At that time, you walked in the way of this world, in conformity to the ruler of the domain of the air—the ruler of the spirit who is now operating in the sons of disobedience.                                                                                              Ephesians 2:2.

He rescued us from the domain of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son whom He loves.                                                                                          Colossians 1:13.

To the one who overcomes and guards My deeds until the end, I will give him authority over the nations and he shall rule them with an iron rod, as when clay pots are broken into pieces.                                                                                                 Revelations 2:26,27.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, now the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night.                                                                                                                              Revelations 12:10.

A Lover of Hospitality

Be a lover of hospitality. Titus 1:8.
Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 1 Peter 4:9.

For many people the mention of hospitality calls to mind Martha Stewart more than the gospels. While it is worthy to mention the value of opening your home to others, there is a bit more being conveyed in these words. The word being translated hospitality actually means loving kindness to strangers. And the word strangers refers to resident aliens, minorities, and sojourners in the land. In other words, these scriptures are dealing with the age old problem of ethnicity, prejudice and racism. Do you really think that will ever be properly dealt with outside of Christ?

To demonstrate this truth, let’s start with a narrative from Luke 17 where Jesus is met by 10 lepers seeking their healing. He orders them to go show themselves to the priests. As they departed they discover that they have been cleansed and one of them returns to glorify God in giving thanks before the Lord’s feet, and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus comments “there are none found that returned to give glory to God, besides this stranger.”  Luke 17:18.

The Samaritans were the despised people living among the most despised people in history, and are enshrined in the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ by the words “Good Samaritan”. These strangers stand out among the members of society by whose treatment the Lord will judge the nations. Matthew 25:31-46.

So what does the Law and the Prophets have to say about this thorny topic? Let’s consider this survey:

You shall neither mistreat a stranger nor oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.   Exodus 22:21.
Also you shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.    Exodus 23:9.
The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.          Leviticus 19:34.
One ordinance shall be for you of the assembly and for the stranger who dwells with you, an ordinance forever throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord. One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who dwells with you.    Numbers 15:14, 15.
He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.          Deuteronomy 10:18, 19.
Do not let the son of the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord speak saying “The Lord has utterly separated me from His people”. Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants. Even them I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations. The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet I will gather to him others besides those who are gathered to him.”       Isaiah 56:1-8.
Thus says the Lord: “Execute judgment and righteousness, and deliver the plundered out of the hand of the oppressor. Do no wrong and do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, or the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.  Jeremiah 22:3.
The people of the land have used oppression, committed robbery, and mistreated the poor and needy; and they wrongfully oppress the stranger.      Ezekiel 22:29.                        And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.  Malachi 3:5.

So we see beyond the prophets condemning society’s injustice, a Law given to Moses that was acutely concerned for the rights of strangers. How then did this wall of separation come to exist that Paul speaks of in his letter to the Ephesians?
At that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. Ephesians  2:12.

How could this be true when the Law of Moses had made every accommodation for the foreigner who desired to seek the Lord? In verse 15 he says that the enmity was created by the law of commandments in ordinances: nomos entole en dogma. This expression refers to what Jesus referred to as the traditions and rules of men undermining the Word of God. Because of the mutual hatred and distrust that existed between the Jew and all of
the neighboring societies, no Jew would even sit at a table and eat a meal with a gentile. This is something that even the apostle Peter was called out on by Paul, the apostle for the gentiles. In contrast, Jesus always ate with publicans and sinners.

Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was  to be blamed; before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?”      Galatians 2:11-1.

Even though he had fully embraced the gentile as a fellow believer when the Lord had given him a vision that corrected his views in Acts chapter 10, his fear of men resulted in hypocrisy.
Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful (Pharisee) it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Acts 10:28.
And finally he concludes: Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that fears Him, and works righteousness, is accepted with him. Acts 10:34, 35.
As an elder of the first church in Jerusalem, Peter was very familiar with the complications of a Jewish/gentile fellowship. When he wrote in his letter to show hospitality without grumbling, the word used is more often translated murmuring. This grumbling or murmuring began early on in the church.
And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Acts 6:1.
Note the clear racial overtones to the situation at hand. The solution the apostles came up with to deal with the problem was to have the congregation choose for themselves seven men to appoint over the administrative duties.
The apostle Paul recalls for us in 1 Corinthians 10 how murmuring and complaining was the “original sin” of the congregation in the wilderness. The people had just passed through the Red Sea and witnessed a great deliverance when they soon were murmuring against God and Moses.
And the people murmured against Moses, saying, what shall we drink? Exodus 15:24.
And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: Exodus 16:2.
Now in their defense I would point out that they had traveled three days in the wilderness and not found any fresh water. Most Christians have murmured and complained about far less. The point is that this is far more serious than most give consideration.
Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10:11.
When Paul says that this is the issue where the ends of the ages meet, he was ushering in the end of the age of justification by works of the Law and bringing in the age of justification by grace.
For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17.
But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. 1 Corinthians 10:5, 6.
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; While it is said, today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? Was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom He swore that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Hebrews 3:14-19.

In other words, regardless of the covenant, grumbling and complaining are an offense to God and will be considered an act of unbelief. And now we can look to Abram to complete the picture and find the purpose.
Paul taught that Abram was the father of justification by faith, for when he was told his offspring would be as the stars of heaven, he believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. James pointed out that Abraham later proved his faith by offering his son Isaac in obedience to God. But in Hebrews we are reminded that the first great act of faith, without which nothing else would have followed, was his departure from his home land.
By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went…he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country…for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God… and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:8-16, highlights.

James wrote that true religion is to care for widows and orphans and to keep ourselves unspotted by the world. James 1:27
Why then does he not mention strangers along with widows and orphans as the Law of Moses and the prophets do so often? Because we are called to be the stranger, the pilgrim, the sojourner in this world. We cannot conform to this world and expect to be translated into a heavenly homeland. A community church may compromise to be inoffensive and socially acceptable, but any individual who hopes to go from the called to the chosen, or elect; must be willing to step outside that comfort zone. To set hands on the plow and not look back until you have completed your course and remain faithful.
Here is how:

Do all things without murmuring and disputing, That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life. Philippians 2:14-16.

 

Spiritual Principles of Memorial And Remembrance

There is some confusion of meaning between the words memorial and remembrance as they are used in the Old and New Testaments. This confusion is magnified by an inconsistency of translation for the Hebrew words that are used in the Old Testament to convey these two ideas.

Let’s start with an easy example from the New Testament to further illustrate before attempting a deeper study in the Old Testament, while also clearing up some discrepancies in translation. In Acts chapter ten, we read an important event in the life of a gentile and Roman named Cornelius. He received in a vision the message of an angel who informs him that “your prayers and your almsgiving have come up before God for a Memorial.”  Acts 10:4.

In accordance with the angel’s instructions, he calls for Peter to hear his words. Peter has already been informed by the Holy Spirit to respond to his request and go to him. After preaching the message, everyone present at his home receives the Holy Spirit. Cornelius testifies that his prayer was heard and his alms have been “had in remembrance in the sight of God”           Acts 10:31.

In other words, God has acted on his behalf and his entire household. A Memorial before God has resulted in a Remembrance in His sight.

In Exodus chapter 17, we read of the event where the children of Israel are attacked by a hostile people called the Amalekites. Joshua leads his warriors out to confront them, while Moses intercedes from a mount overlooking the battle. After Joshua prevails, the Lord commands Moses: write this for a memorial in a book and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua, for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.                        Exodus 17:14.

We can clearly see that words recorded in a book are kept as a memorial on earth for man. In Acts 10, the memorial was before God in heaven. The perspective is very important for a right understanding.  The use of the word remembrance in the same verse implies that Amalek has no expectation to ever call upon the Lord and be acknowledged. In other words, Amalek has no memorial in heaven.

The Hebrew word used in the first instance is zikrown (H2146), derived from the root zakar (H2142) -to remember and is translated in the KJV 17 times as memorial. On six other occasions however, it is translated remembrance, showing an inconsistency in translation and a source of confusion.

In the second instance of Exodus 17:14, the Hebrew word used is zeker (H2143) and is also derived from the same root word zakar. This word is translated 11 times as remembrance, but on five occasions is translated memorial, showing the same inconsistency and confusion.

Having introduced the Hebrew for memorial and remembrance, we can now look at an instance where this inconsistency of translation distorts the implications of the passage.

In the prophet Malachi we received this word from the Lord:

then they that feared the Lord spoke often one to another and the Lord hearkened and heard and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon His name.                                                       Malachi 3:16.

In this verse the Hebrew word zikrown is used and should have been translated memorial for consistency. The choice also reflects the idea of words recorded in a book as a memorial.

In Acts Ten we read that Cornelius had established a memorial before God for his righteous prayers and alms-giving. We can now add to that the godly conversation of believers to what Jesus referred to as treasure kept in heaven. This is why Christian fellowship is so valuable and righteous conversation stands in clear distinction from common socializing.

For our conversation is in Heaven, from where we also look for our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.                                                                                              Philippians 3:20.

As He who has called you is holy, so be you also holy in all manner of conversation.                                                                                                                     1 Peter 1:15

Jesus is much stricter: but I say unto you that every idle word that men shall speak they shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you shall be justified and by your words you shall be condemned.                      Matthew 12:36 & 37.

Jesus also stresses the importance of the books written in Heaven:                   notwithstanding in this rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you, but rather rejoice because you names are written in Heaven.                                                                              Luke 10:20.

Whoever offers praise glorifies me, and to whomever orders their conversation aright I will show the salvation of God.                                                                     Psalm 50:23.

We find the dynamics of memorial and remembrance in this same Psalm:  Offer unto God thanksgiving and pay your vows unto the Most High, then call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me.                                                                                                        Psalm 50:14&15.

 

Visitation: Memorial and Remembrance

You have granted me life and favor, and your visitation has preserved my spirit.  Job 10:12.

The word visitation-pekuddah (H6486) from pakad (H6485)-to visit, provides a basis for understanding the nature of covenant promises and the hope of prophecy. The Israelites for 400 years in Egypt clung to this prophetic word from Joseph:

And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel saying God will surely visit you and you shall carry up my bones from here.                                  Genesis 50:25.

This covenant oath and promise between Joseph and his descendants continued as a memorial and became the words used by God to introduce Moses as their deliverer. The fulfillment of this promise becomes a remembrance of God and is prominent in the narrative.

Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say unto them….”I have surely visited you and that which is done to you in Egypt.”                 Exodus 3:16.

And the people believed and when they heard that the Lord had visited the children of Israel and that he had looked upon their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped.                                                     Exodus 4:31.

And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him for he had placed the children of Israel under solemn oath saying “God will surely visit you and you shall carry up my bones from here with you.”                                              Exodus 13:19.

A deeper understanding of this word is necessary to grasp the statement “your visitation has preserved my spirit” in Job 10:12

Pakad appears 90 times in the book called Numbers and is the basis for the title in English. The first four chapters of Numbers recounts a series of censuses that God commanded Moses and Aaron to make of the congregation of Israel.

Take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel after their families by the house of their fathers, with the number of names, every male by their polls. From twenty years old and upward all that are able to go forth to war in Israel you and Aaron shall number them by their armies.         Numbers 1:2 & 3.

Verse two describes a numerical count (take the sum) and means a head count; “by their polls” literally means “by their skulls”. Verse three uses the word pakad “number them by their armies”. So what is the relationship between “to visit” and “to number” when the word pakad appears? Pakad actually means to make an assessment, to observe to determine your physical, mental and spiritual state.

The key here is the phrase “that are able to go forth to war”. This is more than a head count, but also an ability and skills assessment. And so in Exodus 4:31 “He looked upon their affliction”, the visitation is concerned with the state of being.

This correct understanding of “to number or to visit” forms the basis for both ministry and fellowship.

Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction to remain unspotted from the world. James 1:27.

This verse doesn’t limit ministry to widows and orphans, the emphasis is upon all who are afflicted by the enemy, with these two as prominent examples. Visitation also defines the role of leadership in the church.

Who then is a faithful and wise servant whom his lord has made ruler (more correct is caretaker) over his household (congregation) to give them meat (spiritual sustenance, “I have meat you know not of, my meat is to do the will of the one who sent me” John 4:32-34.) in due season (as the need arises). Matthew 24:45.

 

Ministering to the saints is a visitation to preserve the spirit of the church.

The Memorial of Passover for the witnesses of Israel

In Exodus, the Lord designates the month of departing from Egypt a beginning of months for the witnesses of Israel, and implements an annual observance of the Passover and Feast of Unleavened bread.                                                             Exodus 12:1-3.

Verse 14 says: and this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and you shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations.

The feast commemorates the night before the exodus when all the first born males of Egypt, both man and beast, were slain; but the children of Israel were passed over, because of the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and lintels.

This feast as a memorial is vital, for the commandment connects this event in the history of Israel with the first of three testimonies from the Word of God concerning their first patriarch Abraham. Just prior to the judgment of Sodom the Lord says this:

for I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do judgment and righteousness; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which He has spoken of him.                                                                                  Genesis 18:19.

Notice that Cornelius in Acts 10 received the same positive review, as a man who not only looked to his own salvation, but his family and household.

Returning to the Lord’s instruction for the Passover in Exodus 12:

and it shall come to pass, when your children shall ask you, what mean you by this service? That you shall say, it is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when He smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.                                                                                Exodus 12:26 & 27.

The Hebrew word zakar-to remember, that provides the root for both memorial and remembrance, includes the aspect of passing on all things vital, be it worldly wisdom or divine instructions.

This is particularly emphasized for parental instructions to children. This includes the need for elders and leaders of the church to pass on the full gospel apostolic instructions. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy:

the things that you have heard of me by many witnesses, the same commit you to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.                           2 Tim 2:2.                                                                                                       In short, the apostolic teachings exist as a Memorial for the church.

And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.                                                                                                   Exodus 12:29.

God’s most severe judgment against Egypt results in Pharaoh acquiescing to Moses and Aaron, and the Exodus begins with urgency.

It is a night to be much observed unto the Lord for bringing them out from the land of Egypt: this is that night of the Lord to be observed of all the children of Israel in their generations.                                                    Exodus 12:42.

I mentioned previously the testimonies of the Lord concerning Abraham. Before going further let us quickly look at the others

God makes this testimony concerning Abraham: For he is a prophet and he shall pray for you and you shall live.                                                        Genesis 20:7.

This is the first time the Hebrew word nabi-for prophet occurs in scripture and is applied to Abraham, because he stepped into the gap on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah. The first principle of the Old Testament prophet is to be an intercessor.

The third God-given testimony concerning Abraham is spoken to his son Isaac. The Lord tells Isaac that He intends to perform the oath which He swore unto Abraham, saying “because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”             Genesis 26:5.
Isn’t it amazing that five centuries before Moses is given the Law, God claims that there was a man who had fulfilled them! Abraham was truly a friend of God. We also can include the words of the angel who stayed Abraham’s hand from slaying Isaac on Moriah, saying “now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son from Me. Genesis 22:12.

God then swore an oath by Himself to fulfill all His promises made to Abraham.

Praise be to God that He gave His only begotten Son for our Salvation!

 

The Memorial of Passover for the strangers and servants

The Lord gave Moses and Aaron further instructions in regard to strangers and servants desiring to keep the Passover, that all the males must be circumcised. This is why circumcision was such a hot topic in the early church discussion in regards to expectations placed upon gentile believers.

Paul resolved the issue:                                                                          for he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God.                                                     Romans 2:28 & 29.

Note the clear symmetry between the two verses right up to “in the spirit and not in the letter”. But then Paul adds this final clarification; whose praise is not of men, but of God. When our heart is circumcised, we can say like Paul:

For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.                                  Galatians 1:10.

But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men but God, which tries our hearts.                              1 Thessalonians 2:4.

Some translations change this to “God, who tries our hearts”. Granted, He certainly does do this, but the point Paul is making is that the test of a circumcised heart is to put ourselves to this question, am I pleasing men or God. This is the issue which tries our hearts.

Twice Paul makes an interesting statement in 1 Co 1:31 and 2 Co 10:17, “let them that glory, glory in the Lord.” The statement suggests that he is quoting a verse from the Old Testament. In actuality, let them that glory, glory in the Lord is a paraphrase of a passage from the prophet Jeremiah. Paul is not so much attempting to teach a lesson here, but to stir up their minds by way of remembrance.

By mentioning this he is calling to mind something he no doubt taught on extensively while in Corinth. Why do I say this? Paul’s stay in Corinth is chronicled in Acts:                                                                                  he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. Acts 18:4.

Then he receives from the Lord in a vision by night “be not afraid but speak and hold not thy peace, for I am with you and no man shall set on you to hurt you, for I have much people in this city.”                                                  Acts 18:9 & 10.

And then verse 11 tells us that he continued there for 18 months! “teaching the Word of God among them”.

So let’s look at the text from Jeremiah that Paul would have been teaching from to apply this paraphrase he uses “to glory in the Lord.”

Thus saith the Lord, let not the wise glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty glory in his might, let not the rich glory in his riches: but let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.                                            Jeremiah 9:23 & 24.

Now let’s jump back over to 1 Corinthians:

for you see your calling brethren how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and base things of the world and things which are despised God has chosen, yes and the things which are not to bring to naught things that are; that no flesh shall glory in His presence.                                                                              1 Corinthians 1:26-29.

Try to set aside the obvious inference that the church is made up of foolish, weak, base and despised members and hear the echo of Jeremiah 9 in this passage. So what was Paul teaching on by using Jeremiah 9 as his text?

Let’s continue through the final two verses:

Behold, the days come says the Lord, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart.                                    Jeremiah 9:25&26.

In the time of Jeremiah, all the people of Israel had become blind to God’s Word. Even as  Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

even unto this day when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it (the heart) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.                                                                                              2 Corinthians 3:15-17.

The blindness of the uncircumcised heart is a paramount issue. For the Lord has set a day when the veil will be lifted from the hearts of Israel.

This will be an opportunity to look at the first of the mysteries of God Paul speaks about:

let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.                                                                                                          1 Co 4:1&2

In order to be a faithful steward, a saint must know what these mysteries are of which Paul speaks.

For I would not brethren that you should be ignorant of this mystery, less you should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in.                              Romans 11:25.

 

Memorial of the Firstborn

The Lord spoke unto Moses; sanctify unto me all the firstborn…remember this day you came out of Egypt, for the Lord brought you out with a strong hand, therefore you shall not eat with leaven….for seven days…and you shall tell your son in that day “This is done because of that which the Lord did unto me when he brought me out of Egypt. Exodus 13:1-8, abbrev.

And it shall be for a sign unto you upon your hand and for a memorial before your eyes that the Lord’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt.                                                     Exodus 13:9.

After destroying all the firstborn males of Egypt and sparing Israel, both of man and beast, the Lord claims all the firstborn males who open the womb as His own possession. To eat bread without leaven for seven days is to acknowledge what God sanctifies unto Himself as an ordinance forever. These commandments are for a memorial to the strong hand of the Lord in our life, to direct our actions in accordance with His ways, not our own ability.

And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, what is this? You shall say unto him, with a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, the house of slavery…..therefore I sacrifice to the Lord every male that opens the womb but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.                                 Exodus 13:14, 15.

The Lord displays His strong hand in judgment against the strength of man as a display of sovereignty. “For the weakness of God is stronger than men.”  1 Corinthians 1:25.     

This perception of man invested in the first born male is clearly understood in the words of Jacob in his final blessing upon his sons.

Reuben you my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.                                     Genesis 49:3.

“The beginning of my strength” is the expression of a man’s virility.             He smote all the firstborn in their land, the chief of all their strength. Psalm 105:36.

On the other hand, God displays His might and the beginning of His strength in creation:                                                                                               Lift up your eyes on high and behold who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by names by the greatness of His might, for that He is strong in power, not one fails.               Isaiah 40:26.

Moreover, this perception of the firstborn male is an expression of the pride of man. In this context, the Lord invests Israel before the witness of Pharaoh (the false man-god) with a severe warning:

And you shall say unto Pharaoh, thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, my firstborn, and I say unto you; let my son go that he may serve me, and if you refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay your son, your firstborn.      Exodus 4:22&23.

The priesthood had become exclusive to the tribe of Levi after the golden calf incident, and as a result, they took the place of the firstborn redeemed of the Lord.

Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that opens the womb from among the children of Israel, therefore the Levites shall be mine because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast, mine shall they be: I am the Lord.                                                                                                   Numbers 3:12 & 13.

The census established the number of Levite males qualified to serve with Aaron in the priesthood, the sons of Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. The census of the firstborn males totaled 273 souls above that of the qualified Levite males, and these were redeemed by a five shekel per man redemption price.

Take heed to understand that the church is not exclusive to firstborn males of natural childbirth, but the number establishes a limit to the fullness. God has taken for Himself the firstborn as a reflection of the fact that the Son of God is the firstborn of all creation. Thus Hebrews 12:23 refers to the general assembly and church of the firstborn.
In modern day Israel, the government mints a five shekel coin that can be purchased for a family to commemorate a son as the firstborn, by natural childbirth. Family restrictions in some countries, birth control, abortion and cesarean birth all restrict the number of firstborn males who open the womb, and the church of the firstborn.

For Jerusalem will be trampled upon by the gentiles until the time of the gentiles be fulfilled.                                                                                   Luke 21:24.

As well the blindness of Israel shall only continue until the fullness of the gentiles be come in.                                                                                  Romans 11:25.

To be a faithful steward of the mysteries of God is to be aware of this from the scriptures. To what end is all of this concern for the firstborn, what is the Logos of God revealed to us?                                                                                          The Father has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; who has delivered us from the power of darkness and has translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the FIRSTBORN OF EVERY CREATURE, for by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created by Him and for Him and He is before all things and by Him all things consist. And He is the Head of the body, the church who is the beginning the FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD, that in all things He may have the preeminence. Even the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints, to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.                                                                          Colossians 1:12-27.

One of the clearest statements of what it means that Jesus Christ, the Son of God is The Logos from the foundation of the cosmos.

You are worthy O Lord to receive glory and honor and power, for you have created all things and for your pleasure they are and were created. Revelations 4:11.