• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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  • February 2020
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Camels and Critics

CamelsGenesis 24:10 – Domesticated Camels:

Some Bible critics believed that there were no domesticated camels during the time of Abraham as the bible states. Archeologists later found paintings of domesticated camels on the walls of the temple of Hatshepsut, which dated back to Abraham‘s period.

Not the One who Claimed Wisdom

ConfuciusNorman Geisler:

So I cast my lot with him – not the one who claimed wisdom, Confucius; or the one who claimed enlightenment, Buddha; or the one who claimed to be a prophet, Muhammad, but with the one who claimed to be God in human flesh. The one who declared, ‘Before Abraham was born, I am’ – and proved it.

A Covenant Christmas

On this second Sunday of Advent, let us consider our covenant making God. It has always been God’s plan to create for Himself a people. We see this clearly in God’s relationship with Abraham. God comes to Abraham and establishes a relationship with him; He establishes a covenant.

A covenant is not just a mutual agreement or contract. It is a binding agreement between two parties that can never be broken on pain of death. God’s part of the covenant was to redeem his people and bring His people back to Him.

The Holy Child who was born on Christmas morning was bringing the fulfillment of God’s covenant. God had come to redeem His people and fulfill His covenant with Abraham. If our justification before God depended on us, it would never happen because we are sinful and unfaithful.

Over and over again we have rejected God and want to be independent of any relationship with Him. God, however, pursues man. God is not content to simply exist in some corner of the kingdom of heaven; He has not wound the world up like a clock and then walked away. Our God is intensely personal.

Christmas is a declaration of God’s faithfulness. Paul writes to Timothy, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13 ESV)

God’s covenant with Abraham was singularly one-sided. During the time of Abraham, the practice of making a covenant was to take a Christmas Nativityfew animals and cut them in half from head to tail. The halves were then positioned to form a path between them. The two people making the covenant would walk the path between the separated pieces; saying in effect, “If I break this covenant, may my flesh be ripped apart like these animals.”

In the covenant with Abraham, however, we see that only God walked the covenant path between the animal halves. The Bible tells us, “When the sun had gone down and it was dark, behold, a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch passed between these pieces.” (Genesis 15:17 ESV) Abraham did not walk between the pieces because Abraham could not keep the terms of the covenant. Therefore, God made a unilateral covenant. Even if Abraham and his descendants could not keep their side of the covenant, God would keep His.

We need to see that Christmas and covenant are linked to God’s eternal plan. We may not see it or understand it, but God is working out His purpose for each of us. Christianity teaches that history is headed somewhere and that it is “His-story”. Life has meaning and God rules over it. God is not asleep somewhere, He is watching over us. The Bible says, “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9 ESV)

Most of us would like to have a god who we can manipulate. God will make good His promises and fulfill His covenant, but He will not be put into a box. When Jesus was born, people were probably not thinking much about a covenant fulfilling Christmas. Yet, the night skies were opened and filled with angels. A baby was born and His cry has echoed through the ages. Who would suspect that, through such a small child, God would fulfill His covenant and change the world?

Let us think on God’s covenant with Abraham during this second week of Advent. Remember that God saved Abraham’s son when He did not save His own Son from the sacrifice of the cross. Our God has given us an incredible gift!



We Owe Him Ourselves

The truth of Jesus Christ endures from generation to generation. He is the same gracious Savior that He was to our fathers. He is today our Savior and is the only Savior by whom our children may have any comfort. Thomas Adams writes:

“Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.” (Heb. 13:8)

[Christ is], subjectively, in his power the same; and that (1) Yesterday, for he made the world; (2) To-day, for he governs the world; (3) For ever, for he shall judge the world.

Yesterday in the creation: ‘All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made,’ John 1:3. ‘By him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him, and for him,’ Col. 1:16. All things, even the great and fair book of the world, of three so large leaves, coelum, solum, salum; heaven, earth, and sea. The prophet calls him ‘the everlasting Father,’ Isa. 9:6; Daniel, the ‘Ancient of days,’ Dan. 7:9. Solomon says, that ‘the Lord possessed him in the beginning of his way, before his works of old,’ Prov. 8:22. So himself told the unbelieving Jews, ‘Before Abraham was, I am,’ John 8:58.

We owe, then, ourselves to Christ for our creation; but how much more for our redemption? … If I owe him my whole self for making me, what have I left to pay him for redeeming me? In the first work, he gave myself to me; in the second, he gave himself to me. By a double right, we owe him ourselves; we are worthy of a double punishment, if we give him not his own. (“The Immutable Mercy of Jesus Christ”)

The Field of Abram

Archaeology and the Bible:

The field of Abram in Hebron is mentioned in 918 B.C., by the Pharaoh Shishak of Egypt (now also believed to be Ramses II). He had just finished warring in Palestine and inscribed on the walls of his temple at Karnak the name of the great patriarch, proving that even at this early date Abraham was known not in Arabia, as Muslims contend, but in Palestine, the land the Bible places him.

Archaeology and Genesis

Over the centuries there have been many attacks against the Word of God. Yet, God has seen to it that His Word abides; while the attacks are vanquished and soon forgotten. Edward J. Young provides evidence of this:

Someone has aptly compared the Bible to an anvil against which the hammer blows of unbelief are constantly beating. But although the hammers crack and break frequently, and must be replaced, the anvil stands. It cannot be shattered. . . .

Toward the close of the last century there lived truly gifted and brilliant German scholar by the name of Julius Wellhausen. . . .

Wellhausen’s assaults upon the book of Genesis were extremely severe. He was particularly insistent that the background of the patriarchal narratives did not represent an accurate picture. He considered this background, as it is presented to us in Genesis, not to be an accurate reflection of the times of the patriarchs, but rather of the period in which it was written down, several hundred years later. . . .

In 1925 excavations were carried on at a place in Mesopotamia known today by its Turkish name of Yorgan Tepa. In ancient times, however, this place bore the name of Nuzi (pronounced Newsy), and proved to be a center of the ancient Hurrians, mentioned in Genesis 14:6 as the Horites. Incidentally this mention of the Horites [Hittites] was long regarded as an inaccuracy. Now, however, at Nuzi, a settlement of these people has been discovered.

What is of particular interest for our purpose is the fact that great numbers of clay tablets were unearthed at Nuzi, which proved to be business documents. They are now known as contract tablets, for they contain the records of ancient business contracts. . . .

As a result of the excavations it is now possible to know quite a bit about some practices of the Hurrians. For one thing, a citizen of Nuzi could not sell land. If, therefore, one wished to purchase land he could not simply go to a realtor, as we do, and buy the desired property. Instead, as a result of this restriction, there was a legal fiction by means of which it was possible to get around the difficulty. In brief, the way it worked was this. If I wish to obtain your land, I cannot buy it; I can, however, have myself adopted as your son. If I am thus adopted, I shall become the heir, and the land will be willed to me. In return for this, I can give a gift to you. . . .

Genesis 15:2, 3 has long been a difficult section of Scripture to understand. As we learn from the Nuzi tablets, it was the custom for a couple who were without children to adopt someone who in return for being made the heir would take care of them in their old age and see to it that they were given a decent burial. Eliezer of Damascus had evidently been adopted by Abraham to be his steward, to manage his affairs and possibly to give him burial. According to the practices of Nuzi if an heir should later be born, the adopted son would have to give way to the heir. In the light of this provision we may understand the language of the Lord, “This [i.e., Eliezer] shall not inherit thee, but he that shall come out of thy loins shall inherit thee.” Abraham was simply acting in accord with the customs of the time.

Not only the Nuzi texts, but also the now famous Code of Hammurabi sheds light upon the type of thing that Abraham did in taking Hagar to be his concubine. It was the custom, apparently, when the legal wife was barren, for such a wife to provide her husband with a concubine in order that a seed might he raised up. . . In providing Abraham with a concubine Sarah was simply acting in accordance with the customs of the time. The same is true of the action of Rachel (Genesis 30:3) when she provided Jacob with a concubine, Bilhah.

As might be expected, such a practice was not likely to bring about happiness, and we read that Sarah wished to drive Hagar out. In this, however, she was going contrary to practice. . . Despite the fact that Sarah was violating custom, the Lord spoke to Abraham, “Let it not be evil in thine eyes, because of the land and thy handmaid. In all that Sarah saith to thee hearken unto her voice, for in Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Genesis 21:11, 12). (Edward J. Young, The Accuracy of Genesis, [March 1957]: 23-26)

Egypt and the Famine

Archaeology and the Bible:

The Beni Hasan Tomb from the Abrahamic period, depicts Asiatics coming to Egypt during a famine, corresponding with the Biblical account of the plight of the sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’.

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