Monday, July 28, 2014

The Savior, Not Many People, Saves Us

The wisdom of the world argues: "The more the merrier," and "There is strength in numbers."

What does the Bible say?

"And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for there is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few." (1 Samuel 14: 6)

He saves us, regardless of how many or how few there may be.

Ironically, with God, the fewer of us, the more of Him, and the greater the victory:

Gideon and the Three Hundred

"And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me. 3Now therefore go to, proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, Whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart early from mount Gilead. And there returned of the people twenty and two thousand; and there remained ten thousand." (Judges 7: 2-3)

There is strength in God, and He is with us according to His Covenant, and God will identify Himself as LORD (YHWH) when He refers to Himself as the protection for His people, which includes you and me who believe on Him.

We have this Covenant with God our Father because of His Son, Jesus:

"And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." (Hebrews 12: 24)

Jesus is the LORD incarnate, who now represents us at God our Father's right hand (Romans 8: 33-34), the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13: 8)

Let us see other promises which the LORD, our Covenant God, made with Israel, and which we can rest in today:

"3And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; 4For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you. " (Deuteronomy 20: 3-4)

Our strength and protection have nothing to do with numbers, but with our Number One Savior.

Consider Abraham, who with a small band of men defeated many kings:

"14And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. 15And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. 16And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people." (Genesis 14: 14-16)

Then:

And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself. 22And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, 23That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: " (Genesis 14: 21-23)

The part in between these two passages reveal where Abraham found great protection and power:

"
17And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale. 18And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
19And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
20And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all." (Genesis 14: 17-20)
 
Melchizedek is a picture of Jesus, our Great High Priest today:
 
"17For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
 
"18For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.
 
"19For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. 20And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest:
 
"21(For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)" (Hebrews 7: 17-21)

Abraham knew that His wealth had nothing to do with him, but with God, who blessed him and prospered him, but with the blessings of God Almighty, which we have to today through our Savior, Jesus Christ.

David stood up to Goliath as the shepherd boy rested in the covenant promises of the LORD:

Little David Took Down Big Goliath
Because He Had the LORD on His Side

"45Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. 46This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. 47And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD'S, and he will give you into our hands." (1 Samuel 17: 45-47)

Consider also the calm example of Elisha, when he was surrounded by the Syrian army:
king of syria, Elisha, Gehazi, chariots of fire, horses of fire, angel army, 2 kings 6:8-23
Elisha Points Out the Heavenly Hosts

"15And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? 16And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them. 17And Elisha prayed, and said, LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the LORD opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha. 18And when they came down to him, Elisha prayed unto the LORD, and said, Smite this people, I pray thee, with blindness. And he smote them with blindness according to the word of Elisha. 19And Elisha said unto them, This is not the way, neither is this the city: follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom ye seek. But he led them to Samaria." (2 Kings 6: 15-19)

God asks us to see Him in the midst of our trials. Not to look at ourselves, but to see Him who has been from the beginning (1 John 2: 13-14), that He is taking care of all things for us, and is still saving to this day.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Psalm 114: 1 -- Leaving the Land of Strange Shame

File:William de Brailes - The Crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14 -26-30) - Walters W10611V - Full Page.jpgThe Word of God is Limitless, Inexhaustible, and Enriching -- Like God Himself.

This year, 2014, is the year of Greater Glory, and the Psalm for this year, Psalm 114, can yield great treasures of God's grace for us to receive, reflect, and release to the world.

בצאת ישראל ממצרים בית יעקב מעם לעז׃

The first verse of Psalm 114 is presented above in its original Hebrew.

Here are the key translations from the previous post to bring out the full meaning of this verse for this banner year of greater glory:

King James Bible
When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language;


International Standard Version
When Israel came out of Egypt— the household of Jacob from a people of foreign speech—


Young's Literal Translation
In the going out of Israel from Egypt, The house of Jacob from a strange people,


The Amplified Bible
When Israel came forth out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,


The Message
After Israel left Egypt,
    the clan of Jacob left those barbarians behind;


The last translation brings out something more about the land which the Israelites were leaving.

Looking at the meanings behind the original Hebrew words, one finds more impressing things which we can learn about growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus.

Turning from the first word of the verse, let us now look at the last word "laaz", which mean: "strange":

3937 [e]lō-‘êz.לֹעֵֽז׃of strangeVerb

Notice that the word is a verb, not a noun or an adjective

One could call it a verbal, thus rendering the verse "from a people who spoke a strange language".

Yet the word gives off deeper meaning than just foreign.

The verb literally means:

laaz: to talk indistinctly or unintelligibly
Original Word: לָעַז
Part of Speech: Verb
Transliteration: laaz
Phonetic Spelling: (law-az')
Short Definition: language
NAS Exhaustive Concordance
Word Origin
a prim. root
Definition
to talk indistinctly or unintelligibly

Barbarians, or babbling, like the Tower of Babel, where the people of the earth attempted to overcome God's strength in their own, and thus God confused their language so that they could not work together.

Yet the word "laaz", if someone looks up the word in an English-Hebrew dictionary, also means "slander".

In other words, the Israelites left a land where they did not understand the language, where the people did not speak clearly or distinctly, but they left a land where slander and shame were spoken, too.

In Christ, we are no longer subject to shame or condemnation:

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8: 1, NIV)

and also

"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9: 14)

Then

"For by one offering he hath perfected[in their conscience] for ever them that are sanctified." (Hebrews 10:14)

When we grow in grace, when we leave our old selves, dead in trespasses, we enter into the righteousness and grace of God, in which we neither hear nor heed the hues of shame which the Satan, our flesh, and the world heap upon us:

"
14In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.
 
15Behold, they shall surely gather together, but not by me: whosoever shall gather together against thee shall fall for thy sake.
 
16Behold, I have created the smith that bloweth the coals in the fire, and that bringeth forth an instrument for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.
 
17No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD." (Isaiah 54: 14-17)
 
Consider also Jesus' example during His earthly ministry:
 
"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12: 2)
 
Wow!
 
This year, leave the strange shame of yesteryear, the ancient sins from which you have been purged through the blood of Jesus (2 Peter 1:8-10), and growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord! (2 Peter 3: 18)
 
 
 
 
 

Psalm 114: 1 -- Going out to Grow in Grace

File:William de Brailes - The Crossing of the Red Sea (Exodus 14 -26-30) - Walters W10611V - Full Page.jpgThe Word of God is Limitless, Inexhaustible, and Enriching -- Like God Himself.

This year, 2014, is the year of Greater Glory, and the Psalm for this year, Psalm 114, can yield great treasures of God's grace for us to receive, reflect, and release to the world.

בצאת ישראל ממצרים בית יעקב מעם לעז׃

The first verse of Psalm 114 is presented above in its original Hebrew.

Here are some key translations to bring out the full meaning of this verse for this banner year of greater glory:

King James Bible
When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language;


International Standard Version
When Israel came out of Egypt— the household of Jacob from a people of foreign speech—


Young's Literal Translation
In the going out of Israel from Egypt, The house of Jacob from a strange people,


The Amplified Bible
When Israel came forth out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,

Interesting how the Amplified Bible does not bring out much  more from these verses.

The Message:
After Israel left Egypt,
    the clan of Jacob left those barbarians behind;


The last translation brings out something more about the land which the Israelites were leaving.

Looking at the meanings behind the original Hebrew words, one finds some impressing things which we can learn about growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus.

The first word of the verse is actually "went out":

3318 [e]bə-ṣêṯבְּצֵ֣אתwent outVerb

The original verb is yatsa, and its first  mention occurs in this verse:

"And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good." (Genesis 1: 12)

Going forth is about leaving the ground, or rising from the dead and bringing forth life.

Jesus spoke about the seed which dies and brings forth much fruit:

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (John 12: 24)

Jesus is the seed of Abraham (Hebrews 2: 16):

"For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith." (Romans 4: 13)

and then

"That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed." (Romans 9: 8)

We are all in the Seed of Abraham, Jesus Christ, and just as He died for us, so we died with Him, and as He rose from the dead, so have we:

"8Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 6: 8-11)

When we leave Egypt, the life of sin, the flesh, and the law, we are free to grow in grace. We begin to grow when we die to ourselves and let Christ Jesus live in us, for apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15: 5) and in ourselves we are dead, for our lives are hid in Christ (Colossians 3: 4)
 
 
 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why the Disciples (and We) Feared



"38And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?" (Mark 4: 38)

Even though Jesus had promised the disciples that they were going to Cross over the Sea, they feared when the storm arose, and they cried out to Jesus.

On three points they were wrong, and from those three points we can understand why we are fearful and we find ourselves yelling at Jesus during times of trouble rather than trusting that He is taking care of all things for us.

If Jesus is asleep and the storm is raging in your life, do not think for one second that He is not aware, and that He does not care.

The fact that Jesus was on the earth, God made flesh, was the full testimony of God's love for us:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3: 16)

Yet the unbelief of the disciples in the rocky boat bare revelation to us, as to why we may find ourselves still fearful, still crying out.

First of all, the disciples shouted "Master."

Jesus is our Savior, not just a teacher, not an example. When the disciples cried out for help, Jesus did not explain to them the phenomena of the weather, nor did He shame them because they did not bring along a life-raft, and He certainly did not shame them for their fear, or claim that there was some sin in their lives which frustrated God's grace to protect them.

Is Jesus a Master, a Task-Master, a Teacher, or a Savior in your life today?

I admit that I am still learning to receive Him as a Savior, someone to whom I can cast all my cares (1 Peter 5: 6-7) To this day, I hear Christians quoting unscriptural advice, like "God helps those who help themselves." No! God helps those who cannot help themselves (or why would they seek His help?)

"31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8: 31-32)

and

"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4: 19)

Second, the disciples questioned: "Do you not care?"

Jesus had faced this accusation before:

"But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me." (Luke 10: 40)

Of course He cares. Not just in giving Himself for us, even when we were not paying attention, let alone cared (Romans 5: 8), with this promise affirmed in Peter's First Letter:

"6Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: 7Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. " (1 Peter 5: 6-7)

Maybe you know that Jesus is a Savior, but you are not sure that He will save you.

He died for the worst of us (which from the standpoint of sin is actually all of us), that we may be first in Him:

"4But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:" (Ephesians 2: 4-6)

He knows everything that we are going through:

"For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4: 15)

and

"But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?" (Galatians 4: 9)

He knows what you are feeling, and He knows what you are going through. Not once should we question whether He cares or not.

Third of all, the disciples magnified their problem instead of their Savior:

"Don't you care that we are perishing?"

The fact that the disciples in the boat could yell at Jesus asleep on the boat already demonstrated that they were not dying at all.

Just as the Israelites magnified the giants of the Promised Land instead of focusing on the Promises from the One who Promised all things, so too we tend to focus and enlarge the problems in front of us instead of the Eternal Problem Solver, Jesus our High Priest Forever:

"3Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. (Romans 8: 33-34)

Jesus is interceding for you and me right now! He is praying for you before you started praying to Him or to His Father for anything.

And God has placed all things under His feet:

"22And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all." (Ephesians 1: 22-23)

When you recognize that He is above all things, then you have no need to fear anything, for you are in Christ, and all things are under your feet, too!

Today, see Jesus as your Savior today, not just from death to life when you believed on Him for eternal life, but every day. Know that He cares for you in all your troubles, regardless of what may be happening, and magnify Him in your mind as you read the Word of God, recognizing that no matter what challenges you face, He is greater than all of them:

"O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together." (Psalm 34: 3)

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Year of Greater Glory: 2014

Jesus in Center Place -- Graces you and me
With Greater Glory!
(Source: Richard Croft)
Pastor Joseph Prince of New Creation Church spoke over the year 2013 a year of great provision and  victory. Citing unprecedented rain and snowfall in Israel, he declared a year of open doors for the Body of Christ.

In prior sermons, he shared that every Psalm speaks of a year, from Psalm One which corresponds to 1901.

Psalm 113 corresponds, then, with 2013.

In that Psalm, the singer speaks of the great graciousness and goodness of God, who takes the poor out of the dust, the needy out of the dunghill, to set them with princes, even the princes of His people.

This wonderful declaration speaks to every person who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ, who takes us from dead in our trespasses to alive and seated in heavenly places.

To be seated with princes? We are seated with the King of Kings, Jesus Christ, our Prince of Peace!

The  last verse of Psalm  113 speaks of a barren woman keeping house, becoming a merry mother of children.

This wonderful miracle corresponds to these prophesied wonders:

"1Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD." (Isaiah 54: 1)

Paul references this wonderful promise to the Galatians:

"27For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband.

"28Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. 29But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now." (Galatians 4: 27-29)
 
When we realize the fullness of our new standing in Christ, that we receive His righteousness, that we receive His perfect standing before God the Father, we find that His grace can flow fully in our lives.
 
I submit that in my life, the year 2013 was the year of being established in righteousness, learning that my true identity is in Christ, with Christ, not with myself, and certainly having nothing to do with what I do or say or have. Everything that we have, we have because of Jesus.
 
When we know who we are, or rather whose we are, then we can look forward to Christ causing us to triumph in all things (2 Corinthians 2: 14), that in Christ we are more than conquerors in all things (Romans 8: 37), that concerning all things we can prosper and be in health (3 John 2).
 
We are Christ's, and Christ is God's (1 Corinthians 3: 23)
 
With this powerful revelation established for us, let us look to 2014, and the banner Psalm for this year of Greater Glory: Psalm 114!

1When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language;
2Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion.
3The sea saw it, and fled: Jordan was driven back.
4The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.
5What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back?
6Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams; and ye little hills, like lambs?
7Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob;
8Which turned the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters.

He Perfects Us -- Not We Ourselves

"The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands." (Psalm 138: 8)

Take another look at this verse.

We do not perfect ourselves.

We do not make ourselves better.

Yet man-centered cults and religion has taught people that they make themselves  better by keeping certain rules, by attending religious services, that we can improve our standing before God.

Excuse me?!

"The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
2The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God.
3They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one." (Psalm 14:1-3)
 
and
 
"Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." (Psalm 53: 3)
 
Solomon, the wisest man in the world, had to acknowledge in his time:
 
"For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not." (Ecclesiastes 7: 20)

Let us not forget, however, that Solomon wrote these words before Jesus,  the righteousness of God, had become sin for us (2 Corinthians 5: 21).

Paul repeated this distressing reality about man (on his own, in himself):

"They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one." (Romans 3: 12)

We cannot perfect ourselves, nor can we be received in ourselves, but only by the blood of Jesus are we accepted before the Father:

"But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ." (Ephesians 2: 13)

and

"To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." (Ephesians 1: 6)

We are accepted because of His favor, not our labor.

He has perfected us in our conscience before God. Before explaining this perfect standing through Christ's blood, the writer of the Book of Hebrew elaborates on the imperfection of animal sacrifices:

"For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. 2For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. 3But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. 4For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins." (Hebrews 10: 1-4)

With the sacrifice of animals, there was a remembrance of sins. Ouch!

Another reason why I hate the AA cult -- a program which creates a remembrance of sins rather than permitting the final Work of Jesus to put away all sins forever. (Take that, Steps Eight, Nine, and Ten!)

Then the writer of Hebrews continues:

"11And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 13From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 14For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." (Hebrews 10: 11-14)

Look at that last verse again: "perfected forever."

As far as God is concerned, as we stand before Him in Christ, we are perfect. In our conscience, the deepest part of us, we need never have a sense of guilt or wrongdoing ever again.

I had to meditate on that part a second time. If we have been perfected forever in Christ, then there is no reason for us to feel guilty about anything ever again. 

We should have no sense of guilt, because He has Finished the work.

Except, of course, if you have been raised in a household with the AA cult or where the Ten Commandments were prominently placed on the wall, as if the Servant deserved more preeminence than the Son.

As if!

Now, if we still feel bad, if we still do bad things, we must recognize that we have been forgiven of all things, but most importantly justified from all things, too:

"Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13: 38-39)

We have been justified forever, and now we can allow His Spirit to transform us, rather than our trying to fix ourselves:

"But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3: 18)44

He perfects us, not we ourselves.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Jacob Grabbed When God Was Always Giving

Going from Isaac to Jacob, one finds that laughter gave way to grabbing.

Jacob cheated his elder brother Esau out of his birthright, then deceived his father to get the blessings.

Hold on a second.

Who said that Jacob was a supplanted in this fashion?

Esau, the embittered older brother who was taken advantage of twice over:

"And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?" (Genesis 27: 36)

Now, are these allegations true, and to what extent?

When reading the Bible, I have learned the importance of context, which focuses on who said what, when, and why.

Esau Despised His Birthright
Jacob Never Stole it
Regarding the birthright, Jacob did not take it away at all. Esau gave it up:

"29And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: 30And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. 31And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. 32And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? 33And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. 34Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright." (Genesis 25: 29-34)

Jacob was making food, and Esau was hungry.

Granted, Jacob traded the birthright when Esau was a weakened moment.

However, the Bible clearly declares: "Esau despised the birthright." "His" is in italics, so we can recognize that this birthright involved more than just himself.

Rebekah and Her Twin Sons: Jacob and Esau
Jacob did not trick Esau out of anything, as much as Esau thought of little more than his immediate, fleshly needs.

Now, regarding the first-born blessing, Rebekah the mother of the two sons received a declaration from the LORD:

"22And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD.
23And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger." (Genesis 25: 22-23)
 
The elder will serve the younger. God had foreordained that Jacob would be blessed, not Esau.
 
Paul the apostle explains why:
 
Jacob Deceives His Father Isaac --
But in Truth He Never Had To!
"(For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;" (Romans 9: 11)
 
Many people have misconstrued this passage to mean that only certain people have been determined who will be saved, when in reality the passage is clear --- we are not saved by what we do, but by what Jesus has done for us, what the Father has given us.
 
So, Jacob was supposed to receive the first born-blessing in the first place!
 
The real problem for Jacob, and I submit for all of us who are children of God in Christ, is that we have to grab and take when God so freely gives us all things through His Son:
 
"31What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us." (Romans 8: 31-34)
 
Even though Jacob deceived his father to get the first-born blessing, Jacob did deserve it:
 
"And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed. " (Genesis 27: 33)
 
Why did Isaac quake so violently? He knew that the blessing was supposed to go to Jacob, and even though he had attempted to give it to Esau, everything worked out for Jacob to get the blessing anyway.
 
Some may argue that Isaac's fear had nothing to do with the prophecy which Rebekah had received. If that were the case, then Isaac could have written off the blessing which he had given inadvertently to Jacob. But he didn't, because He couldn't.
 
Not only did Isaac bless Jacob with the first-born blessing, he blessed him again:
 
"1And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. 2Arise, go to Padanaram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother's brother. 3And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; 4And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham. 5And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padanaram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother." (Genesis 28: 1-5)
 
Imagine this -- Isaac blesses Jacob a second time. If Jacob's getting the first-born blessing was such an evil act, why would Isaac bless him a second time?
 
Jacob is a picture also of all believers as we grow from trusting in our flesh to living by His Word and the guidance of His Spirit.
 
Even when we are in the flesh, just as Jacob dressed up as Esau, God still blesses us, and He keeps on blessing us until we learn to stop fighting and receiving from Him freely all things.
 
All things in Christ!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Laugh in the Midst of Hardships

Many of my friends have told me that they are full of fear about the times we are facing in this country.

They assume that because the people whom they wanted to elect did not get elected, that they are doomed to suffer with the bad policies of the people in office.

What does the Bible say about believers like us?

Let's took a look at Isaac, the son of Promise whom God blessed on Abraham and Sarah, the Father and Mother of many, whose bodies were dead and did not believe they would ever have a child.

"And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. 2For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 3And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. " (Genesis 21:1-3)

The LORD comes through, as He promises to, regardless of whether we fret or fuss. The only thing that delayed Isaac coming, in a sense, was Abram and Sarai's efforts (notice before their names were changed) to have a kid through the servant girl Hagar.

Isaac's name means "laughter":

"6And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. 7And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age." (Genesis 21: 6-7)

Isaac is a child of promise, the stronger son who carried the wood up Mount Moriah (Genesis 22), who was not afraid to lie down on the altar, even though he was strong enough that he could have subdued his own father and prevented him from laying him on the wood.

Isaac not only came back down the mount, but served as a figure for Christ Jesus, the Beloved Son of God who was given for us.

"By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, 18Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: 19Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure." (Hebrews 11: 17-19)

Now, let us take another look at Isaac, and how God so richly blessed him:

"21And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD." (Genesis 25: 21-22)

Unlike Abraham, who went into a servant girl to try and force God's will, Isaac . . asked God. Just like that, and Rebekah not only conceived, but she had twins.

Laugh!

When a terrible famine broke out in the land, Isaac almost went down to Egypt.

The LORD intervened:

"And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. 2And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: 3Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; 4And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; 5Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." (Genesis 26: 1-5)

God promised to bless Isaac not because of Isaac, but because of his father Abraham.

There's a famine, but so what? You and I are descendants of Abraham, too, and we can rest in the covenant which God cut with Abraham, for we are all blessed through His seed, Jesus!:

"6Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. 7Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. 8And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. 9So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham." (Galatians 3: 6-9)

and

"And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." (Galatians 3: 29)

You are blessed because of God, not because of the weather. You are blessed because of Jesus, not because of yourself:

Isaac in Gerar
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. " (Ephesians 1: 3-6)

Laugh!

Isaac did not make the first mistake which his father Abraham had made, in that he stayed where God told him to.

But. . .

"6And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: 7And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon." (Genesis 26: 6-7)

We have heard this story before. Abram lied about his wife Sarai, twice! Yet God blessd him.

As for Isaac, his deception was uncovered even worse:

"8And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife." (Genesis 26: 8)

The King of the Philistines literally witnessed Isaac "laughing" with his wife, the original word rendered by "sporting".

Isaac was being himself, and he was intimate with his wife: a much more unseemly exposure of the deception, as opposed to the dream which God had given to Abimelech (Genesis 20: 3)

"9And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she is thy wife: and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her. 10And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us. 11And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death." (Genesis 26: 6-11)

Isaac opened wells
Even though Isaac's deception was found out, and he had feared that he was going to be killed, nothing happened to him, neither from God or man.

The favor of God will never leave us, even when we sin. Laugh!

So, there was famine in the land. Does that mean that Isaac had to settle for a meager harvest? Not at all:

"12Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. 13And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: 14For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him." (Genesis 26: 12-14)

So, no matter who may surround you, no matter what the circumstances you may face, because you are a child of God, because you are in Christ as His own Son (1 John 3: 1-3; 4 17), you can trust in God your father's favor, and know that nothing will hold you back.

Laugh in the midst of hardships, child of God! He is with you and prospering you in your journey!



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

William Hutt: The Theory of Collective Bargaining

William harold hutt.jpg
William Harold Hutt
William Hutt, an Englishman who taught in South Africa and Dallas Texas, was one of the most profound thinkers in free market economics. Sadly, even in his lifetime, particular on the origins and impacts of labor unions. Despite his long, lettered academic tenure, Hutt acknowledged the neglect of his research, a bitter irony defined by witnessing the irrelevancy of his research, while most academics fell into neglect after their deaths.

Not because of the errors of his research, but political forces in universities are strongly allied with liberal, statist, and coercive elements, particularly the labor movement, which have automatically (albeit unfairly) discredited his findings.

In his seminal work, The Theory of Collective Bargaining, Hutt advanced the argument that in a free market, everyone who wants work will find it, and every employer who seeks workers will get them. Labor shortages do not have to occur, provided that government and other special interest forces (like labor unions) do not intervene.
In his inquiry, Hutt wanted to know: does labor face a disadvantage in wage negotiations, and do unions mitigate this disadvantage? Throughout his essay, Hutt concludes "No."

Frederic Bastiat
First, Hutt points out the historical trends of 19th economists, many of whom abandoned the notion that labor union efforts are futile, since the immediate results of labor actions did produce concrete results for particular unions. Many economists defend unions at that point, convinced of their efficacy on behalf of employees who would benefit, not at the expense of other employees, but at the expense of the employer.

Yet classical liberal economist Frederic Bastiat's concerns about unseen effects cannot be ignored, and Hutt's analysis behind collective bargaining identifies long-term consequences as a burden to the laborer. Refusing to reject the wage-fund theory, which argues that labor combinations and force cannot change the available capital to the number of employees.

Then Hutt posits another controversy: the interest of unionists is antithetical to workers. He also debunks throughout the subsistence theory of wages: employers will take every step to bring down wages to the lowest level possible.

Hutt documented this "revelation" methodically instead of emotionally. Those who support unions advocated for their creation, so bias alone challenges the reliability of these groups. "Scientific Socialist" William Thompson, a protégé of Robert Owen, condemned labor unions as elite and exclusionary, resorting to force instead of legal constraints, hurting other industrious workers in the process. Quite a rebuke against labor unions, and one coming from a socialist.
The Economics of the Colour Bar
In Economics of the Colour Bar,
Hutt uncovered the racist leanings of labor unions in South Africa,
which formed to prevent African laborers.
Contrary to union apologists, Hutt exposes the intense elitism which shuns or disdains non-union labor, and for Hutt, an academic at the University of Cape Town, South African, he witnessed first hand how trade unions deliberately (and essentially) discriminated against Africans to exclude them from the work force. Other works on the subject of trade unions identified the racist undercurrents which fomented these associations.

Hutt continues to hammer the point that labor combinations do benefit one class of workers, at the expense of others. No matter how loudly unions plead "An injury to one is an injury to all", the actions of one union to bolster their wages and benefits negatively impact other workers, particularly non-members. With this argument the author brings up another salient point, that classical liberal economists in the past reluctantly acknowledged (or ignored) the negative consequences of collective bargaining. Strong free-market adherents were intimidated by union power, and the timidity of discussion created a paucity of understanding on collective bargaining.

He  then refers to the economic fallacy long entertained by economists, that laborers have a disadvantage in the market place, a theory first advanced (though not yet questioned) by Wealth of Nations author Adam Smith. Crediting the Scottish Enlightenment economist's considerable influence in economics, Hutt then criticizes this foundational yet flawed reasoning, that employers can force wages to the lowest level, working in collusion with other businessmen, and because of the greater wealth of the employer, they could outlast labor disputes, whereas employees with relatively lesser capital could not do without a job and would accede to the demands of the employer.
Adam Smith

Despite the theories advanced in Smith's work, Hutt found little evidence that capitalists and employers routinely colluded to bring down wages. Free markets create competition not just for consumers, but employees as well, and one sees a pattern of employers as competitors by necessity. Whether tacit or overt, employers did conspire out of protection from the labor unions. Regarding the financial advantage of employers vs. employees, Hutt documents the immediate privations which managers faced for workers. Without proper employment, employers lose time and profit would. Relating anecdotal and academic information, Hutt articulates the frustrations of employers having to engage employees at the wages which the workers themselves wanted.

Already, Hutt makes the more compelling argument that employees, not employers, had the advantage. Noteworthy also in a number of his arguments are the vague terms which union supporters have employed, making articulate criticism difficult. The sophistry of modern academia has contributed to this confusion, certainly.

Prior economists failed to note that just as laborers lose potential wages when they don't work, so too do employers, entrepreneurs, and capitalists lose profit when they do not produce. Wages, incomes, and profit affect everyone, not just the employee who may or may not lose a job.

Following references to arcane or long-neglected academics, Hutt introduces a telling argument redefining the behavior of unions: coercive devices. He even compares them to monopolies, in that they attempt to control or limit the availability of a commodity: labor.

Social coercion occurs based on market forces, and private coercion enters when specific groups, such as labor unions, impede trade.

From a train strike in Denmark (c. 1992)
Strikes may benefit one groups of employees, but they exploit other workers
and harm all consumers in the end
Granted, labor actions benefit one group at the expense of another, but no matter what the outcome in labor actions, the consumer is the ultimate loser. Businesses and managers will pass on the costs of rising wage rates to production or find other minds for maintaining the profitably of their enterprises. Labor unions do not hope themselves without hurting other works, business, and the consumers.

Still, two errors have persisted in political economy, according to Hutt:

1. Forcing wage increases through labor actions helps all workers

2.  Labor and Capital are opposing elements (as opposed to co-operational factors)

Popular economic treatments tend to ignore that wage increases can occur through employment-shifting (promotions), and explorations on political economy ignore that large business interests tend to work with labor unions on a tacit basis, promoting policies which permitting a monopoly on labor and capital, all of which distorts the market place and frustrates commerce.

The forced rising of wages not only hurts consumers, but particularly harms the working class, who bear the undue cost of living increases, many of which relating to the products which they create and purchase. Contrary to labor union pretenses to protect workers' interests, their activities benefit a connected political class within unions and corporations, at the expense of the workers, even the members themselves.

Unions can provided camaraderie
and support (without the violence)

Concluding his essay on collective bargaining, Hutt charges that labor unions are the wrong mechanism for increasing labor wages for employees, but rather than discrediting employee associations altogether, the author offers that unions should fight for better working conditions - hours, workplace safety-- issues which a market system cannot reform or balance out.  In other commentaries, Hutt argues that unions offer worker training, camaraderie, and solidarity in other matters. Regarding their role in securing better wages, however, Hutt provides at length that labor unions are inimical to those interests, destructive to market forces, which provide the best equilibrium for optimal employment and payment.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Obama Poll's Pull: Worst Prez of Modern Era (Surprised?)

A new Quinnipiac University National Poll announced that President Obama is the worst President of the Modern Era (Post World War II)
File:Barack Obama in the Oval Office, April 2010.jpg
President Obama -- Low on the Polls


The best President? Ronald Reagan, of course.

Ronald Reagan





I have only one question. . .



Did a University
 
 
have to spend
 
 
time and energy
 
 
taking a poll
 
 
to figure out
 
 
that President Obama
 
 
is the worst President
 
 
Of the Modern Era?
 
 
(Perhaps Quinnipiac took the poll so that Jimmy Carter wouldn't feel so bad.)
Carter: "Thanks Obama!"
No Longer the Worst President
In Modern History