Isaac and Ishmael

Genesis 21 tells us that Sarah and Abraham were still dwelling in the Philistine city of Gerar when Isaac was born.  Since Sarah was ninety years old when Isaac was born, Abraham would have been 100 years old at that time.   Jasher 21:11 reveals Ishmael was 14 years old when Isaac was born.

Eight days after Isaac was born, he was circumcised according to God’s commandment.  Isaac grew and the day Isaac was weaned, Abraham had a great feast for him. The book of Jasher tells us that many people came to celebrate this event including Shem, Eber, Abimelech, Terah, Nahor, and many others. According to Rashi, this took place when Isaac was 24 months old. [1]

Next, Genesis 21:9 says Sarah saw Ishmael mocking Isaac.  I always assumed Ishmael mocked Isaac during the great feast for Isaac’s weaning but Jasher 21:13 indicates Isaac was 5 years old at the time this took place.  We tend to think that Ishmael was laughing or making fun of something that Isaac did but this is not the case.

According to Strong’s concordance, “tsachaq” can mean to laugh, mock, play, or make sport.  Rashi indicates this can be: an expression of idolatry, illicit sexual relations, or of murder.[2]  This may seem very odd to us but Jasher 21:13 confirms one of Rashi’s expressions by indicating that Ishmael sat across from Isaac, pointed his bow and arrow at him, and intended to kill him.  Ishmael literall made sport of Isaac as if he were wild game!  By this time, Ishmael would have been 19 years old and would have known exactly what he was doing.  This was not foolish child’s play.  It’s no wonder Sarah told Abraham to throw them out!

Genesis 21:14-18 tells us that Hagar and Ishmael wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba once they left Abraham’s dwelling. As the Bible describes Ishmael during this time, it uses the Hebrew word “yeled” which is translated as “boy” or “lad.”  This word can also be translated as “young man;” therefore, the use of this word does not contradict the idea that Ishmael was 19 years old when they left Abraham’s home. 

Some unknown time later, Ishmael and Hagar began to dwell in the wilderness of Paran.  At that time Hagar took a wife for him from Egypt and eventually Ishmael fathered 12 nations as the Lord had promised.

It was a good thing that Ishmael did not kill Isaac with his bow and arrow many years ago.  Because Isaac was spared, God was able to bring Jesus from his lineage.  Even though Jesus died on a cross with nails in his hands and feet and a spear rammed through his side, He rose from the dead, is alive today in heaven, and is interceding on our behalf.  

We, who are the Bride of Christ, currently find ourselves wandering in the wilderness of this world and fighting against principalities and unseen spiritual forces of darkness while trying to raise families that are devoted to the Lord. 

Be assured, Jesus will eventually return to Jerusalem to defend His people from the Ishmaelites, Edomites, and Israel’s other enemies who already desire to kill them but they will be destroyed and cast out.    

God’s people who wander and dwell throughout the earth will be brought together for an awesome wedding feast with prominent people like Adam, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, all the prophets, apostles, and many others in attendance. What a day that will be!

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Sarai Will Be Called Sarah

Today, I want to look at Genesis 16 -20 to see it in its original context and to see how it relates thematically to Jesus and His people both past, present, and future.  You may be surprised it encapsulates the New Testament from beginning to end.  This post will be longer than most because I did not want to divide it.  Our Biblical summary from Genesis will be in black and my comments will be in blue.  Having said that, let’s begin.

In Genesis 16, Abram’s wife, Sarai was barren so she took things into her own hands by giving her Egyptian servant, Hagar to Abram in order to bring about God’s promise of descendants from Abram.

Several godly women in the Bible, including Sarai were originally unable to conceive children but later conceived one or more children.  They were all shadows of the virgin, Mary who miraculously gave birth to Jesus.  God was always capable of making an unfruitful womb fruitful no matter what was causing infertility. 

Mary was engaged to a man named Joseph and was surprised when Gabriel told her she had been chosen to bear Jesus, the Messiah.  She was willing but didn’t fully understand how she could do so when she was still a virgin.  Gabriel explained to her that God planned to do this miraculously through the power of the Holy Spirit instead of through natural human means. 

Once Hagar became pregnant, she looked on Sarai with contempt.  Sarah was most likely jealous and responded to Hagar’s contempt by mistreating her.   Eventually, Hagar left because of Sarai’s harsh treatment but later, the Lord found Hagar by a spring and made her return and submit to Sarai’s authority.

When Jesus finally began His ministry, the Jewish religious leaders shared similarities with Hagar’s attitude by looking on Jesus with contempt and rejecting Him even though He had not led anyone away from Torah.  When the religious leaders saw Jesus’ miracles, they were jealous of Him, tested Him, and did not repent of their lawlessness or believe He was the Promised One.   

After Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, non-believing Jews also shared similarities with Hagar by persecuting those who believed in Jesus, the Messiah.  According to Paul, God intended non-believing Jews to become jealous of the Gentiles in order to change their attitude and to bring them to Himself (Rom. 11:11-15).

At some point during the days of the early church, believing Gentiles behaved like Hagar, the Egyptian slave woman because they left and separated themselves from the believing and non-believing Jews who descended from Sarai.  Unfortunately, the early Christian church became syncretised with paganism. 

Now the time has come for the Gentiles to come out of the syncretised church in order to return and completely submit to the terms of the marriage covenant (Torah) as Hagar returned to submit to Sarai.  At this point, not all Christians want to submit to the terms of the marriage covenant.  They must understand that Jesus never led people away from the commandments of God or established a new religion as many believe.  It is time for God’s people to keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Christ (Rev. 12:17; 14:12; 18:4).  Please note these verses say “the commandments of God,” not “the commandments of Christ.”  Obeying God’s commandments and faith are important because obedience is proof of faith.  James 2:26 says it this way, “faith without works is dead.”  As believers in Christ obey God’s commandments, I believe we will see even more non-believing Jews come to know Jesus (Yeshua) as the promised Messiah. 

God assured Hagar that He would increase her descendants.  He told Hagar that she would have a son that would be called Ishmael (which means God pays attention) because God saw her misery.   God explained that Ishmael would be blessed, be a great nation, and be the father of 12 princes.  He would also be wild, against everyone, everyone would be against him, and he would live at odds with all his kinsmen.  At that time, Hagar named God El Ro’i (God of Seeing) – the one who lives and sees.

The description of Ishmael applies to many who practice Islam but I think this can also apply to the animosity that exists between some Gentile and Jewish Messianic believers who are at odds with each other and the persecution and mockery of believers by non-believers.  Those who profess faith in Christ must stand up for their beliefs and be united throughout the world despite mockery, persecution, and possible martyrdom.  During this time we must remember that God sees what we’re going through.

Genesis 17 continues by telling us that God visited Abram and commanded him to walk in His presence and be pure-hearted.  He changed Abram’s name which means “exalted father” to Abraham which means “father of many” and promised to give the land of Canaan to his descendants.

God has promised to give His people a new name and to give them (except the descendants of Zadok and the Levites) the land of Canaan as their inheritance (Ex. 6:8; Ezek. 36:8-12; 44:15-28; Rev. 2:17).  The Lord will be the inheritance of the sons of Zadok and the Levites.  The Jews will have a portion of land assigned to them according to their tribes and the foreigners (Gentiles) will also be assigned a portion in the territory of the tribe with whom they are living (Ezek. 47:21-23; Matt. 5:5).

Jesus lived in obedience to Torah and humbled Himself even unto death.  Because of this, He was highly exalted by God and given the name that is above all names.  In fact, at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, no matter where they are, and bring glory to God the Father by confessing Jesus is Lord  because He is the King of many kings and Lord of many lords (Phil. 2:8-11; Rev. 19:16)!

The covenant of circumcision was then given to Abraham for all males in his household including both those born in his house and foreigners whom he would buy with a price.

During the millennial reign of Christ, all males including foreigners who enter the sanctuary of the Lord must be circumcised both in the heart and in the flesh (Ezek. 44:9).   Many believers do not realize this.  All believers including Gentiles are much like the foreigners who were members of Abraham’s household because they have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20).  They should be circumcised in the heart and flesh because they have been made members of the household of faith (Rom. 2:28-29; 11:17).  Although physical circumcision is not required in order to be saved, Paul told us that the real Jew (or a Gentile grafted into the olive tree of Israel) is not just one outwardly but also inwardly—that circumcision is not just physical but also spiritual (Rom. 2:28-29).  Both are important.  Paul said that men should remain in the condition in which they were called but he also said what’s important is obeying God’s commandments (1 Cor. 7:18-20).  I think another reason many Gentiles are not circumcised today is because this fits the pattern of the second generation of the Exodus who were not circumcised in the wilderness.  We must not forget that they had to be circumcised prior to entering the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership!

God changed Sarai’s name which means “mockery” to Sarah which means “princess.”

The Bride of Christ is like Sarai because she is often mocked but in the future, she will be like Sarah–she will be the Princess of the Prince of Peace during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:5; Ezek. 34:24).

In Genesis 18, three men visited Abraham and one of them (the Lord) promised a son to Sarah and Abraham by the next year but Sarah laughed at the news because she was past the age of child-bearing.  The Lord stayed and spoke with Abraham while the other two men set out for Sodom and Gomorrah.  During their conversation, Abraham interceded for the righteous that were living in Sodom and Gomorrah when the Lord revealed His plans to destroy these cities.

During the second half of the tribulation, two witnesses will preach the need for repentance, of Jesus’ return, and the coming judgment.  Initially, people will probably laugh at these men for prophesying.  Eventually, they will hate them for the authority the witnesses will have and for destroying those who try to harm them yet the people will rejoice when these prophets are killed by the beast that comes up out of the abyss.  Meanwhile, we must emulate Abraham by interceding for the righteous people who are in Jerusalem, which is spiritually Sodom and Egypt (Rev. 11:3-10).  As I see it, the rest of the world is also spiritually like Sodom and Egypt too so we might as well intercede for all of the righteous people to be spared.

After the Lord’s two companions entered Sodom in the evening, Lot found them and convinced them to stay at his home.   He prepared a meal for them and later when it was time to sleep, the men of the town who had heard of their arrival came and surrounded Lot’s house.  These men desired to have homosexual relations with the two godly visitors.  Lot offered his virgins daughters to them but they were only interested in satisfying their homosexual desires.  They accused Lot of judging them for their sexual preferences and threatened to harm Lot worse than the two visitors because of it.  As they attempted to reach Lot, the visitors brought him into the house and struck the men with blindness so they couldn’t find Lot’s door.  They warned Lot’s family of the coming destruction and told them to get their family together and leave.  Lot’s sons-in-law did not think they were serious and refused to go.  Not long afterwards, Lot and his family came out of Sodom and Gomorrah prior to their destruction.  Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt because she looked back but Lot and his daughters were delivered.

If the pattern presented in Genesis 16-18 is any indication of what we can expect in the future, the time of Christ’s judgment is near because of the growing openness of homosexual activity in our midst today.  It is not surprising that explaining to anyone that the Bible says homosexuality is a “sin” or “immoral” is considered “judging” or “hate” and is met with anger or threats to punish them for hate-crimes or force Christians to be re-educated or to conform to the world’s definition of tolerance.  Homosexuals have become blind to the fact that Jesus is the door – the only way of salvation.  Unless they repent of their sin, they will never truly find Him.  Instead, they will share the fate of the Sodomites.  The Bible makes it clear that those who practice homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9; Rev. 22:15).

As Lot’s family was warned to leave Sodom, God’s people have been warned to come out of Babylon the Great.  It is referred to as:

  • The great city (Rev. 11:8; 18:10)
  • Jerusalem; the city where Jesus was executed; spiritual Egypt and Sodom  (Rev. 11:8)
  • A source of economic resources (Rev. 18:11-13)

We should be particularly concerned with the spiritual aspect of this city and examine our own spiritual condition and the city we live in.  We should examine our worldviews, beliefs, and the origins of our traditions including various Christian denominational beliefs and practices that have been syncretised with ancient Babylonian idolatrous practices.   We need to do this because many Christian traditions are not necessarily Biblical.  We should not worship God using pagan idolatrous forms (1 Kings 12:26-33).  We must avoid partial obedience and forsake traditions and/or forms of worship that God has not commanded instead of justifying participation in idolatrous forms for the purpose of worshipping God (2 Chron. 33:15-17; Deut. 12:29-32, 1 Sam. 15). 

Coming out of our own smaller spiritual “Babylons” requires change that we might not be comfortable with.  In order to prepare for the coming tribulation period, we should consider changing our lifestyles so we can live within our economic means.  We also need to abandon unhealthy relationships.  Both of these may require planning, downsizing, and/or moving.  If you feel you need to move away from sinful influences, ask God to lead you to a place of purity where you can stay for a long time. 

New churches with a focus on Hebraic roots are slowly popping up in various places because people are trying to come out of churches that are synchretized with pagan traditions that are associated with the ancient mystery Babylonian religions.  Unfortunately, some of them are struggling to properly interpret the Word of God.  Before new leaders can properly lead people who desire to embrace a Torah lifestyle, they need to take time to:

  • Understand the doctrinal errors of mainline Christian denominations taught by churches, Bible schools, and/or seminaries. 
  • Understand that there are some differences in Scripture interpretation among Messianic congregations.  Try to be aware of any debates Messianic Jews have over the proper interpretation of Scripture.
  • Learn what you can about the culture and history of the Jews.
  • Be engrossed in Torah and test all interpretations of Scripture against it.
  • Know and/or be willing to learn what the Bible teaches as a whole about a particular topic.
  • Live a Torah lifestyle. 

I am very much aware that coming out of a synchretized church is very hard to do when other family members want to stay and/or don’t agree with you.  Spouses need to make a decision to remain together or go to separate churches.  When there is division in the home, you have to decide what holidays to observe and how to do so to obey God’s commandments.  Some people may need to stay where they are already worshipping so they can carefully lay a Torah foundation for others around them as long as God leads them to do so.  Your church may or may not welcome your input.  Staying where you are may temporarily be a better option if there are no Messianic groups open to receiving Gentiles in your area or if new churches embracing their Hebraic roots in your area are selectively choosing parts of Torah to embrace and other parts not to not embrace.  No matter how you look at it, unless your whole family comes out of a synchretized church at the same time, you’re in a bad situation.

Be prepared to be accused of apostasy by family and friends for choosing to leave some of your pagan- Christian traditions behind even though you are really drawing closer to God.  The sword of truth can cause painful division in families so you need to be forewarned (Matt. 10:34-36). 

Once you leave the spiritual Babylon you are in, please try not to look back as Lot’s wife did.  As you obey God’s commandments, you may be helping your family to avoid judgment as the time of the tribulation approaches.

After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s daughters thought they were the only ones left alive on the earth so they had sex with their father in order to have descendants.  Each daughter had a son.  One became the father of the Moabites and the other became the father of the Ammonites.

Once Babylon the Great is destroyed, there will still be two primary groups of people left—those who served the Lord and those who did not.   Jesus will still need to deal with Israel’s enemies.

In Genesis 20, Abraham and Sarah traveled to Gerar, a Philistine city which was between Kadesh and Shur and lived there.  Once again Abraham told the people living in the area that Sarah was his sister because he was afraid they would kill him.  You would think he would have learned his lesson with the Pharaoh of Egypt but this time, Abimelech (whose name means “father of the king”), the king of Gerar took Sarah as his wife.  Fortunately, the Lord warned him in a dream that he was a dead man before he had ever touched her and commanded Abimelech to release her to the prophet, Abraham.  Abimelech was momentarily worried that God would destroy his righteous nation and quickly released Sarah to Abraham and gave him gifts of oxen, sheep, servants, and silver.  Abraham prayed for Abimelech’s wife and female servants to be healed of the infertility that resulted from taking Sarah.

Today the land of Israel is also referred to by many throughout the world as Palestine where the Palestinians are believed to be none other than the Philistines.  The Bible teaches that Israel’s enemies will form a confederacy against them to take the land (Ps. 83:1-8).  These people include the Ishmaelites, the Edomites, the Philistines, and others of the Middle East.  The primary thing they have in common is the fact they serve the god of Islam—a god unknown to their ancestors during Biblical times (Daniel 11:38).

Just as Abraham kept trying to hide the identity of Sarah from the wicked people around him, many members of the Bride of Christ may try to hide their identity from the Antichrist and his minions as the last days approach in order to avoid being killed.  Eventually, the Father of the King – our heavenly Father will take the Bride that has been gathered from throughout the earth and give her to His Son, Jesus Christ.  She will be holy, blameless, and above reproach. 

There is a river described in Ezekiel 47 that will have trees growing on its riverbanks during the seventh millennium whose leaves will have healing properties and the water of that river will heal the waters that will become contaminated during the tribulation.  This river and these trees are similar to the Tree of Life and the River of the Water of Life that will be in the New Jerusalem that is described in Revelation 22.  The leaves of the Tree of Life will be used to heal the nations.

I find it comforting to know the end from the beginning.  As life gets harder, we can focus on the fact that we who are called Sarai will one day be called Sarah.  May you be blessed!

The Early Life of Abraham Part 4

Today we will continue our discussion from the last post.  If you recall, Abram went into Egypt because there had been famine in the land of Canaan.  Pharaoh had taken Sarai to be his wife but he was afflicted by plagues so that he would not lay a hand on Sarai but return her to Abram.

After Pharaoh released Sarai to Abram, they went back to Canaan with Lot and their households.  The herdsmen of Lot began to quarrel with the herdsmen of Abram because there was not enough room in the land for all of them.  According to the book of Jasher, Lot’s herdsmen were also allowing their flocks to graze in the fields of the people of the land.  This was causing problems between Abram, Lot, and the people of the land.

As a result of this, Abram asked Lot to separate from him and choose where he wanted to live.  Lot chose the plain of Jordan and dwelled in Sodom. Abram promised that if necessary, he would help Lot in a time of need.  Abram dwelled in the plain of Mamre which is in Hebron.

At that time, Chedorlaomer, the king of Elam called the three other kings he had a covenant with to come and make war against the towns that rebelled against him by not paying him a yearly tax.  Nimrod, also known as Amrafel came from Shinar and was joined by Tidal, king of Goyim, and Arioch, king of Elasar.  This confederacy made war against the five kings of Sodom and Gomorrah:  Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboyim, Bera king of Sodom, Bersha king of Gomorrah, and Bela king of Zoar.

The four kings of Elam ran off their opponents and plundered the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and took all the people including Lot, his possessions, and household. Abram’s servant, Unic fought in the battle and reported what happened to Abram.  When Abram heard what happened, he rounded up 318 of his men and pursued the kings of Elam, rescued his nephew Lot and his household, and took back everything else that had been taken.

Meanwhile, Bera, the king of Sodom and his men managed to get out of the lime pits they had fallen in and met Abram to reclaim what was his.  Another man heard what had happened and went to meet Abram.  The book of Jasher called him by the title, Adonizedek which means “Righteous Lord.”  The Book of Genesis called him by the title, Melchizedek which means “Righteous King.”  He was the King of Salem – the King of Jerusalem.  He was a priest before God and the book of Jasher specifically identifies him as Shem, the son of Noah.

It was to Shem, Noah’s son that Abram gave a tenth of everything.  By that time, Shem was the oldest righteous person in all the earth.  If you remember, it was Shem and Noah who raised Abram and instructed him in the ways of the Lord.

The Biblical account and that from the book of Jasher give us a picture of what is coming in the future.  As most adults know, there is quarreling taking place over the land of Israel.  It’s a relatively small piece of land yet Israel’s enemies do not want to share it with the Jews.  They want to wipe its inhabitants off the map of the world and keep it for themselves.

Leaders of the world want to see peace in the Land and much discussion takes place on how to divide it.  How it will be divided remains to be seen.  Despite what many believe, the answer probably doesn’t lie in dividing it but in allowing the Jews to stay in the Land God promised would be their inheritance and for the others to go into the plain of the Jordan or elsewhere.  Obviously, this is not going to happen.

Whatever man does with the Land will only be temporary.  The future border of the Land during the millennial reign of Christ will be much larger than it is now (see Ezekiel 47:13-20) and Jesus will make sure His people live in the Land.

Since true and lasting peace is not going to happen by the hands of men, there will eventually be war over who has rights to the Land.   Psalm 83:1-8 says that Israel’s enemies will consult with each other, form a confederacy, and through craftiness will attempt to cut them off from being a nation. 

Zechariah 14:2 says that it will really be the Lord who will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem.  The city will be taken, the houses will be ransacked, and the women will be raped.  Half of the city will go into captivity but a remnant of the people will remain in the city. 

After that, the ultimate Adonizedek (also known as Melchizedek, Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus Christ, and the Son of God) will come with His army to fight Israel’s enemies, the righteous remnant will return to the Land from the four corners of the earth, and people will bring offerings to the Lord (Isaiah 66).

Can you see how God’s plan was foretold in patterns from the early days of the Patriarchs?

The Early Life of Abraham Part 3

As we ended our last discussion, Terah, Lot (Haran’s son), Abram, and Sarai finally left Ur of the Chaldeans with Terah’s household and possessions but instead of making it to Canaan, they stopped in Haran where Abram taught the ways of the Lord to those living there. 

Three years later, Abram, Sarai, and everything that belonged to them left Haran and went to Canaan leaving Lot and Terah behind.  After another three years went by, Noah died.  When Abram had dwelt in the land of Canaan for 10 years, Nimrod went to war against Chedolaomer who was one of his princes and lost.  As a result, Nimrod, also known as Amrafel was subjugated under Chedolaomer for a long time. 

The book of Jasher continues by saying that God promised Abram that the land of Canaan would belong to his descendants but that they would not possess it until the 4th generation.   Abram and his people then returned to Haran to visit with his parents.  When 5 years were completed, God reminded Abram of His original command to go to Canaan so Abram returned there with Sarai, Lot, and all of their household and possessions.  Abram was 75 years old when they returned to Canaan.  

All of a sudden, the book of Jasher appears to detour from the narrative about Abram to tell us about a very wise but poor man named Rikayon who became wealthy by exacting a tax from the dead without the knowledge or authority of the king.  Eventually, the Egyptian king named him Pharaoh and made him prefect under the king.  Ultimately, Rikayon usurped the government of Egypt and exacted a tax from all of the Egyptians.  The writer of Jasher tells us that the Egyptians loved him so much they called all of the kings after him “Pharaoh.”  I don’t know why they liked him so much.  They didn’t like being taxed.  His unauthorized method seemed “wisely wicked” to me.  

This seemingly unrelated account is important because this appears to be the center of a large chiasm in the book of Jasher which is part of our discussion on Abram.  The book of Jasher turns back to Abram and tells us there was a great famine in the land.  As a result of that famine, Genesis and the book of Jasher tell us Abram and Sarai went to Egypt.  Both books tell us that Abram was concerned for his personal safety and asked Sarai to tell those who ask that she was his sister.  Actually, Sarai was his half-sister so this wasn’t a complete lie.  Jasher proceeds to reveal something not found in Genesis—Abram hid Sarai in a chest to protect her from the Egyptians!  When the Egyptians finally came upon them, they assumed the contents of the chest were valuable and demanded a tithe of it.  They seized the chest and opened it.  To their surprise, Sarai was inside and when they took her to be Pharaoh’s wife, Abram prayed for her deliverance.  While Sarai was in Pharaoh’s house, she prayed for the same and God sent an angel to deliver her.  The angel inflicted plagues upon Pharaoh and his house.  Realizing these plagues were a result of taking Sarai, Pharaoh returned her to Abraham and sent them away with various gifts.

Now, let’s look at a few parallels between this account in Jasher and the Torah:

  • Rikayon usurped the government of Egypt and exacted a tax from all of the Egyptians.  In Exodus, Pharaoh enslaved the Hebrews and forced them to build supply cities which were most likely paid for by heavy taxes.  Now, ask yourself, what it’s going to take to pay for all our current government’s pricey programs and get America out of enormous debt?  The one causing this enormous debt seems to have usurped our country yet many love him and what he’s doing.
  • Abram went to Egypt because of a famine.  The 70 descendants of Israel came to Egypt because of a famine during Joseph’s time as second in command of Egypt.  In the last days, we know there will be famine because Revelation 6:6 tells us the enormous price of food that will result from the shortages.
  • Abram was concerned for himself and his wife, Sarai so he hid her in a chest.  Moses’ mother was concerned for his life and hid him in a basket.  At some point, God’s people will be commanded to enter their rooms like they did during the 10th plague of Egypt in order to hide until God’s wrath is past (Ex. 12:21-24; Isaiah 26:20).
  • The Egyptians took Sarai, Abram’s wife for his own.  Pharaoh’s daughter took Moses as her own son.  In addition, the Egyptians took God’s people (the Hebrews) to be slaves in Egypt.  God brought them out of Egypt to bring them to Mount Sinai so they could become His bride.  We will eventually be controlled by a world-wide government.  God commands us to come out of Babylon the Great so we can eventually attend the marriage supper of the Lamb.
  • God sent an angel to inflict plagues upon Pharaoh and his house in order for Sarai to be released.  God sent plagues on the Egyptians and finally the angel of the Lord passed over to destroy the Egyptian first born sons so that Pharaoh would release His people.  If we don’t come out of Babylon the Great, we will suffer the plagues of Revelation along with the rest of the wicked.
  • Pharaoh returned Sarai to Abraham and sent them away with various gifts.  The Egyptians gave God’s people gifts when they left Egypt under Moses’ leadership.  Israel’s enemies will be plundered in the final days when Christ returns (Ezekiel 39:10).

Here we see in the book of Jasher a historical account that would become part of the pattern for what God did in Egypt and what God plans to do in the future. 

Remember, Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”  (NIV)

Come back for more because this is not the rest of the story or the rest of the pattern!

Meanwhile, ask God to show you how we can respond to the rulership of Rikayon today.

The Early Life of Abraham Part 2

Today, I want to continue the account of Abram from the Book of Jasher.  At the end of the last post, Abram was living with Noah and Shem.  Abram left Noah’s house when he was 50 years old and returned to his father to convince him that idolatry was vain and to destroy his father’s twelve idols.  When he came to Terah’s place, Abram entered his father’s chamber of idols and destroyed 11 of his father’s idols and made it look like the 12th idol did it.  When his father came in and asked what happened, Abram blamed everything on the 12th idol.  

As you can imagine, Terah was furious with Abram because he knew that idols were not capable of destroying each other or of eating the meat offerings he always brought them but he was not ready to forsake his idolatry.  After trying to reason with Terah without success, Abram destroyed the 12th idol too. 

Terah was so angry Abram destroyed his idols that he went to discuss the problem with King Nimrod.  In the process of talking with Nimrod, Terah had to confess that he had not given Abram to him shortly after birth but that it was really the baby of his concubine that Nimrod had killed. 

Abram justified the destruction of his father’s idols to the king and princes and encouraged them to forsake their wickedness and to serve the Lord or be prepared to face God’s judgment which awaited them.  Abram spent ten days in jail for his “wicked” crime at the end of which King Nimrod called together the other kings, princes, governors, and sages to discuss Abram’s fate.

Oddly enough, they suggested Abram should be hung on a tree for reviling the king but ultimately, they decided he must be burned to death for destroying Terah’s gods.  Terah almost suffered the same judgment of a fiery death for not giving Abram to Nimrod shortly after birth but out of fear, he falsely accused his oldest son, Haran of advising him to swap the babies.  As a result, both Haran and Abram were bound and thrown into the furnace in which a fire had been prepared for 3 days and 3 nights. 

Haran quickly burned to ashes in the fire but God delivered Abram from certain death and made it possible for him to walk freely in the fire for 3 days and 3 nights.  Intrigued, the king ordered Abram to be removed from the fire but 8 men died trying to get him out.  When Abram finally came before the king, he explained that it was God who saved him from death.  Nimrod then gave Abram gifts and two servants, one of which was Eliezer.  About 300 of the king’s men joined and followed Abram as he returned to his father’s house.  Shortly after that, he married Sarai.

As I reflected on this passage from Jasher, I imagined that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego knew that Abram had once been delivered from a fiery furnace and knew that if God desired, he could deliver them too. 

I also noted that there are various shadows of Christ in the account of Abram and Nimrod’s fiery furnace: 

  • Abram destroyed the idols in the chamber of Terah’s gods.  Jesus cleansed His Father’s temple.
  • The officials suggested crucifying Abram for his “crime.”  Jesus was convicted of blasphemy by the religious leaders and was crucified.
  • Abram was in the furnace three days and three nights where he should have died but he came out alive and returned to live with his father.  Jesus’ dead body laid in the grave three days and three nights and His spirit descended into the fire of hell where He made a proclamation to the imprisioned spirits but He rose from the dead and returned to live with His heavenly Father (Eph. 4:9, 1 Peter 3:18-20).
  • One person was delivered from judgment and the other was not.  One criminal who was crucified with Jesus went to paradise and the other one did not.
  • A multiple of 3:  Three hundred were added to Abram’s household whereas 3000 were added to the faith after Pentecost (Shavuot).

Now, let’s get back to Abram.  Two years after Abram came out of the fiery furnace, Nimrod had a dream that was interpreted by one of his servants who explained that Abram’s seed would rise up to destroy Nimrod and his army.  When Nimrod heard this, he commanded Abram to be killed.  Eliezer heard about Nimrod’s command and warned Abram who fled to Noah and Shem’s house where he stayed a month.  Terah visited him there and finally Abram convinced him that they had to leave and go to Canaan in order to survive Nimrod’s death threats.  So that was when Terah, Lot (Haran’s son), Abram, and Sarai finally left Ur of the Chaldeans but instead of making it to Canaan, they stopped in Haran where Abram taught the ways of the Lord to those living there.

As you consider the things that Abram went through, think about what God has done in your life.  Do you have confidence that He will take care of you and be with you through the good and difficult times? 

Please realize that sometimes it’s ok to run away from something.  There were several Biblical people who did so.  That doesn’t show a lack of trust, it shows common sense.  It was God’s way of protecting them.

Is God calling you to go somewhere comparable to the depths of hell in order to teach the ways of the Lord to those around you?

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The Early Life of Abraham Part 1

The book of Jasher continues to be fascinating to me because it gives so much insight into areas that the Bible remains silent on.  Again, the primary reason I’ve been comparing the book of Jasher with Genesis is because it is mentioned in Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18.  Today, I want to continue showing you what God has been revealing to me through this book.

Just before the tower of Babel was being built, Nimrod had conquered his enemies, was crowned king, and reigned over all the sons of Noah.  He rebelled against the Lord, made idols of wood and stone, bowed down to them, and taught everyone his wicked ways.  King Nimrod also set up rulers, judges, and princes over his subjects.  The prince of Nimrod’s army was Terah who became the father of Abram.

More curious than these are the circumstances surrounding Abram’s birth.   In Jasher 8: 9, Nimrod’s wise men and conjurors told Nimrod, “We heard that a son was born to Terah the son of Nahor, the prince of thy host, and we yesternight came to his house, and we ate and drank and rejoiced with him that night.  10 And when thy servants went out from the house of Terah, to go to our respective homes to abide there for the night, we lifted up our eyes to heaven, and we saw a great star coming from the east, and the same star ran with great speed, and swallowed up four great stars, from the four sides of the heavens.  11 And thy servants were astonished at the sight which we saw, and were greatly terrified, and we made our judgment upon the sight, and knew by our wisdom the proper interpretation thereof, that this thing applies to the child that is born to Terah, who will grow up and multiply greatly, and become powerful, and kill all the kings of the earth, and inherit all their lands, he and his seed forever.”  To make a long story short, these men recommended that Abram be killed.  Nimrod demanded that Terah give Abram to him in exchange for money so he could be put to death.  Terah deceived Nimrod by giving his concubine’s newborn baby to him instead and Nimrod dashed this child’s head to the ground.

If you are thinking in terms of thematic parallels, this should remind you of:

  • How Moses escaped death and how the Hebrew male babies died in his place.  In case you didn’t know, the Talmud teaches that astrologers warned Pharaoh a child would be born that would overthrow him.  It was really for this reason that Pharaoh responded by ordering male babies to be thrown in the Nile River.
  • How Jesus escaped death and how male children two years old and under were killed in His place after wise men from the east told King Herod about the star they had seen in the east and that they had come to worship the King of the Jews.

Shortly after this baby was killed, Terah quickly took his wife and Abram to a cave where they lived for 10 years while the king and his men thought Abram had been put to death.  During that time, Terah daily brought them sustenance yet continued to serve King Nimrod.  The story gets even more interesting when we find out that Abram left the cave and went to live with Noah and Shem when he was 10 years old and continued to live with them for 39 years while everyone else living around them including Abram’s father, Terah committed idolatry.

Around that time, the Lord scattered the people at the tower of Babel but King Nimrod remained in Shinar and his princes and subjects called him Amrafel.  This name reappears in the life of Abram and Lot at a later time so tuck that away in your memory banks.

Getting back to Abram, I find it wonderful that Noah and Shem helped to raise him.  God has always been active in peoples’ lives despite the wickedness around them.  Even though Terah lived an idolatrous life and served King Nimrod (Amrafel), God spared Abram’s life and placed him in a home where he could be nurtured in the ways of the Lord.  Praise God that Noah and Shem were still alive at that time and were willing to do this.  If my calculations are correct, Shem was about 395 years old when Abram was born and died when he was 600 years old whereas Noah was about 897 when Abram was born and died when he was 950 years old.

We don’t live as long as they did but it is clear to see that wickedness continues to grow around us daily.  How will we respond when God puts a child, teenager, or another adult in our path?  Will we teach that person the ways of the Lord like Noah and Shem did with Abram so they can become God’s instrument for the future and escape the lake of fire?  Will we teach them truth trusting that they have the potential to become someone as great as Abram?

Has someone done that for you?  Have you had a chance to say thank you?  Do you think you have become what God wants you to be yet?  Remember God’s probably not done with you because there was a lot that God still planned to do in Abram’s life when he was 49 years old.