Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Patiently Waiting with the Seals of Promise

In Genesis 15 the word of the LORD restates God's covenant with Abram. Abram will have a son. Abram believes the word of the LORD - he says his Amen, his active, faith filled "let it be" - and this is what gives him a righteous standing before God.

The symbolism of the animal sacrifices is unclear. Jordan speculates that it could be a prophetic summary of what we would get later in Leviticus...

The great and terrible darkness falls on Abram, reminiscent of Gen 1:2. God prophesies the fortunes of this seed-line (Abram's descendants) over the next 400 years, but God will rescue them. The rhythm of God's people in history is persecution for the sake of the name before glorification.

The LORD makes himself responsible for the fulfillment of the promises both temporary (land) and eternal (new creation).

Genesis 16 is a good few years after the original promise of offspring is made, so Sarai figures, given she is barren that maybe Abram can have a son through her maidservant, Hagar. So Abram gets Hagar pregnant. This creates strife in Abram's household. Hagar becomes proud and begins to treat her mistress with contempt, which upsets Sarai (understandably). Sarai, then puts her in her place (in the best sense of the word) but Hagar takes umbrage and flees. (Jordan says that the English translations cast Sarai in an unfair light by using the term "harshly" and that this is not necessary.)

Nevertheless, the Angel of the LORD meets Hagar and promises to bless her son. He will be a godly man, but he will not be part of the seed-line through which Messiah comes. She blesses the Angel, saying you are the God who sees me. Then returns to her mistress.

My notes on Genesis 17 are here. The only thing to add (from Jordan) is that Abraham and his descendants were to own the sign of the covenant, that is circumcision. Non Jews e.g. Namaan didn't need to be circumcised to be saved in the Old Testament, but they did need to acknowledge (the people of the) circumcision, and what it symbolised. The Judaizers of the New Testament not only misunderstood the New Covenant, they misunderstood the Old too.

Abraham and Sarah are still waiting for their son, whilst the Psalmist is still waiting for deliverance. The patience of faith is exercised by both.

When Jesus gets baptised, it's not because (as Monty Python would say) he has been a very naughty boy and needs to be converted, (baptism is first a symbol of death and resurrection, not cleansing) but because he is publicly stepping into and fulfilling the Old Testament role of High Priest - this for Christ it's an eternal role.

In Acts, The Spirit who publicly anointed the Son at his baptism, has anointed and sealed the Son's people. And just as Abraham in Genesis 17 was getting used to walking (no doubt somewhat painfully) with the sign of the Old Covenant, (circumcision), his spiritual descendants, the Apostles, are rising to walk publicly with the sign of the New Covenant (the Spirit), as they too wait patiently under opposition for deliverance into the new creation.

Christian, how are you doing at walking in step with the Spirit?

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