Superpowers of the Millennium

In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the earth. For Adonai-Tzva’ot has blessed, saying: “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance.”                                                                      Isaiah 19:24&25.
The land of Assyria figured prominently throughout the Old Testament, and has emerged to play a pivotal role on the world stage. The Assyrian empire ranged from what is today eastern Turkey, across northern Syria and Iraq, into northwest Iran. This entire region, though separated geo-politically, is loosely united by the populations of ethnic Kurds that occupy the “land of Assyria”.
The Kurdish controlled areas in northern Iraq are of particular interest for the oil reserves found there. Ideally, this oil would be brought directly to the eastern Mediterranean by pipeline across the Syrian desert. Instability in this country and Lebanon currently prevent that from being accomplished. The warfare in this region will soon settle this issue, as the presence of Hezbollah in Lebanon is an intolerable situation for Israel, and will soon be resolved by force of arms.

Ephraim feeds on wind, and follows after the east wind: he daily increases lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt. Hosea 12:1.

To the south, Egypt has had peaceful relations with Israel for a generation, and will benefit greatly from this relationship. They will prosper from Israel’s relationship with the west, as Israel will eventually control the seaport that will become the center of global trade.

Who has taken this counsel against Tyre, the crowning city, whose merchants are princes, whose traffickers are the honorable of the earth? The Lord of hosts hath purposed it, to stain the pride of all glory, and to bring into contempt all the honorable of the earth.
Isaiah 23:8&9.

Consider the role that this city of Tyre has played in Biblical history. When Solomon built the first Temple, material support was provided from the ruler of Tyre. When Ezra built the second temple, he received material support from the ruler of Tyre also. Will they play a pivotal role at the end of the age?

And it shall come to pass after the end of seventy years, that the Lord will visit Tyre, and she shall turn to her hire, and shall commit fornication with all the kingdoms of the world upon the face of the earth. And her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord: it shall not be treasured nor laid up; for her merchandise shall be for them that dwell before the Lord, to eat sufficiently, and for durable clothing.
Isaiah 23:17&18.

For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.                                                      Revelations 18:3.

The great Mediterranean seaports of Tyre and Sidon are included in the land of promise. The center of global trade in the time of the Phoenicians, an enabler for Solomon’s global ambitions, and soon to be the prize of a coming war in the Middle East. Sidon was the first born son of Canaan, the man cursed by  Noah. Tyre was named for the daughter of Sidon. The Bible is the only source for a true understanding of history, the present, and the future.
The main point to draw from this discourse is to avoid deception in the mind of believers. The coming war in the middle east will not be the end of the world or a sign for the return of the Son of man. This is a necessary step in man’s inglorious history to fulfill all righteousness. The time of the gentiles is the only age that is coming to a close. The three nations of God will be the center of our history going forward. Remain faithful.

Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Revelations 2:10.

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.

 

The Name of Remembrance

In Exodus chapter three, Moses asks the Lord how he should respond if the children of Israel ask him what is His name. God said thus shall you say, “I Am has sent me unto you. This is my name for ever and my memorial unto all generations”.                                                                                   Exodus 3:13-15.

Here memorial is used for zeker which for consistency and application should have been translated remembrance. Keep in mind that the Lord is preparing to bring the congregation out of bondage with a great deliverance. On this historic occasion, the people are given a name for them to call out in all generations for deliverance from their enemies.

This inconsistency translating zeker is repeated in Hosea chapter twelve. After declaring his controversy with Judah, the Lord again declares Himself as Deliverer of Israel in verse five: even the Lord God of hosts, the Lord is His memorial (zeker).                                                                             Hosea 12:5.

Again zeker is translated memorial, rather than remembrance, when the point is to call on the name of the Lord to be remembered.

This is the language of covenant. When Moses first asked for a name, the Lord declared Hayah hayah, I Am That I Am. Hayah is the Hebrew root from which is derived YHVH. In the same way that the name of remembrance is shortened to I Am, YHVH is shortened:

Sing unto God, sing praises to His name, extol Him that rides upon the heavens by His name Yah (Yahu), and rejoice before Him.                                                  Psalm 68:4.

Yahu is incorporated into many Hebrew names such as Elijah in English translations. In Hebrew though the name is Yahu, Eliyahu for Elijah, Yirmiyahu for Jeremiah, etc. Thus the name of remembrance for the people of God to cry out for deliverance is Yahu!

The Lord declared unto Moses; I am the Lord and I appeared unto Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by the name of God Almighty (El Shaddai), but by my name YHVH was I not known to them.                                                                                               Exodus 6:2 & 3.

This becomes all powerful when we acknowledge that when God remembers from heaven, actions result on earth. In Genesis God remembered Noah (8:1), Abraham (19:29), and Rachel (30:22). Prayers were answered and promises were kept.

When we acknowledge our forgetfulness, especially in times of rest and plenty, we can understand what God has provided for us.

For He has made His wonderful works to be remembered, the Lord is gracious and full of compassion.                                                                                                  Psalms 111:4.                                                                       

Now that the difference between memorial and remembrance has been set before our understanding, we can consider one of the Lord’s most important and final commandments.

He took bread and gave thanks and broke it, and gave unto them saying this is my body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of me.                              Luke 22:19.

The practice of breaking bread in fellowship became the foundation of Christian fellowship in the book of Acts. Paul writes: for I received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you. He goes on to describe the last supper, including the command to do this in remembrance of me.               1 Co 11:23-25.

Paul was not a participant at the last supper and had not been welcomed into the fellowship of the church in Jerusalem due to his fearful reputation. Yet the new communities were established in the breaking of bread in fellowship. The breaking of bread is not given to practice as a memorial before God, but a remembrance in the Lord’s sight. Jesus said:                                                                   “for when two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”                                                                                   Matthew 18:20.

This gathering together is initiated by the proper breaking of bread. Continuing in 1 Co 11, Paul warns that not breaking bread properly is to bring damnation on to yourselves. To allow breaking bread to become empty ritual, or to completely neglect the act as obsolete is to deny the very presence of the Lord into your fellowship.

Paul concludes: for this cause many have become infirm and many have died.                                                                                                       1 Co 11:30.

From Luke 24 we know that the presence of the Lord in fellowship is essential to a right understanding of His word. After his resurrection, Jesus meets with two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and has a conversation which is given to us as a memorial. After the breaking of bread they knew him for their eyes were opened, and He then vanished from their sight.

And they said to one another, did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? Returning to Jerusalem they gave their testimony of how He was known of them in breaking of bread.                                                                           Luke 24:32-35.

This is the Lord’s remembrance. This is to know Him. Now is the time for believers to enter into the ministry of the burning heart. To break the bread of sincerity and truth. To call on the name of the Lord in remembrance of His mercy.

Peter said; I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance.                                   2 Peter 3:1.

For the bread of God is he which comes down from heaven, and gives life unto the world.                                                                                                                       John 6:33.

The name of remembrance is used to call on the Lord, especially for deliverance from enemies. Furthermore, to show that this name is a new revelation, the Lord tells Moses:                                                            And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name YHVH was I not known to them. Exodus 6:3.

Yet this Holy Name of God manages to be inserted by scribes into narratives found in the book of Genesis 141 times. Since that time, there has existed much controversy over the use of this name. Rabbis teach that use of the Name should be avoided completely for fear of using the name in vain.     Out of consideration for this concern, most English translations render YHVH simply as The Lord.

This point of contention was dealt with by the Lord Jesus Christ in a most innovative way. When Jesus spoke of God, He routinely referred to Him as “The Father”. He taught His disciples to pray: “Our Father”.

The apostle Paul encourages us to be just as intimate with the Father, teaching us:  

For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.                 Romans 8:15.

While Paul teaches us to be set free from a spirit of slavery and address God as Daddy, it is fear itself that has lead many to avoid the name of remembrance given to Moses. As mentioned, the name is avoided in most English translations by using The Lord.

The English translation used by many Messianic Jews is called the Tree of Life Version of the Old and New Testaments. This translation has gone full circle and replaced The Lord with Adonai. Adonai is derived from the word Adon, which is lord in a common form. For example, Sarai addressed Abram as “my Lord”, Rebekah addresses Abraham’s head servant the same way when he comes seeking a wife for Isaac.                                                 Adonai is in fact sanctified, being used only in reference to The Lord, but it is not the Holy Name of remembrance given to Moses in Exodus 3. You will need a concordance to know when Adonai is actually used in the original text and when it is substituting for YHVH. In the Tree of Life Version (TLV), Psalm 103:1 becomes:

Bless Adonai, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name.

For anyone who has been taught the English language, this statement implies that the holy Name of God is Adonai. Unfortunately, that is not the case, as the substitution has been made for YHVH. Through a series of mental gymnastics, the holy Name of God has been replaced by a Hebrew word that is derived from the common word Adon, for my Lord. This is drinking the wine of astonishment! Psalm 60:3.

Adonai spoke to Aaron saying:  “Do not drink wine or fermented drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you go into the Tent of Meeting, so that you do not die. This is to be a statute forever throughout your generations.  You are to make a distinction between the holy and the common and between the unclean and the clean.                                         Lev. 10:9&10.

They will teach My people the difference between the holy and the common and explain to them the difference between the unclean and the clean. Ezekiel 44:23.

Now this is where translation becomes a bit ludicrous. Here is Psalm 135:1 in the TLV:                                                                                 Halleluyah! Praise the Name of Adonai. Give praise, O servants of Adonai

First of all, Adonai does not appear in this verse. More importantly the Hebrew halal Yah is found and translated Halleluyah. This expression is used frequently in the Psalms and is often simply translated Praise the Lord.        Yah is a contracted form of YHVH and used 41 times in the Old Testament. Typically it is also translated “the Lord” beginning in Exodus 15:

The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation:             Tree of Life substitutes:                   Adonai is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.

So Adonai replaces Yah in most verses, with the exception of when it is preceded by halal. I suppose Halleli Adonai would be pretty awkward, and Halleluyah is one of the most familiar expressions in all of Christianity. Of course, so is Praise the Lord!

The question being asked then, is it appropriate for the original text to be mistranslated to satisfy a tradition of men. What would Yeshua say?

Then Yeshua said, “Woe to you Torah lawyers as well, for you weigh the people down with burdens hard to carry… Luke 11:46.

The apostle Paul teaches that Messiah came to take down the wall of separation between Jew and gentile. Woe to anyone that tries to maintain that wall for the sake of a tradition.

We have a better name, a name above all names. His name is Yeshua and He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the Son of God.

The one who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the Temple of My God, and he will never leave it. And on him I will write the name of My God and the name of the city of My God—the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God—and My own new Name.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Ruach is saying to Messiah’s communities.”      Revelations 3:12, 13.

 

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.