Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The Serpent Wages War Through His Offspring

Put simply, history is the playing out of the enmity between the serpent and his offspring (sinful humanity) and the woman and her offspring (the Messiah and his people).

There were many godly people in Abram's day (e.g. Melchizedek, Shem etc), but God did a new thing in calling Abram, for with Abram, God would set up the seed-line and further elucidate on his promises to redeem the world.

Abram was a lord and a prince - a powerful and godly man. In Genesis 12, God tells him that he will have a descendent (Jesus) who will lift the curse of the fall, welcome people back into fellowship with God and renew creation. The rest of his life will be an exemplification of that story. So now Satan is at war with Abram, hoping to ensure that no such descendent ever makes it out of the womb alive.

Through Pharaoh, Satan attacks Abram, taking his wife (removing possibility of conception) but God intervenes, cursing Pharaoh who then cries foul. (As if it is Abram's fault that this autocrat can't keep his trousers on!) He accuses Abram of deception but the truth is: like his father, the serpent, Pharoah is self-deceived. The Bible does not rebuke Abram at all here (and we should avoid mapping our democratic understanding of relationships onto the ancient autocratic world). Rather Abram comes out from Pharaoh even richer than he was before. (Look out for this pattern again in the next book of the bible. ;-)

God's people are a wilderness people, passing through this world, with no lasting inheritance here. However, in Genesis 13 Lot, who is clearly a man of faith, ends up compromising himself and in the course of time will lose almost everything he has. He pitches his tent near Sodom, and it won't be long before he is living inside that city (symbolic of a compromised lifestyle). Meanwhile Abram, out in the arid places, grows stronger and stronger in faith.

Have you, like Lot, pitched the tent of your heart (wittingly or unwittingly) in places where you can feast your eyes on the lusts of this world? Will it lead anywhere good?

In Genesis 14 compromised Lot would have been swept away by his enemies had it not been for his godly uncle. The kings of Sodom wish to thank Abram for his deliverance, but he will have nothing from them. He will be a blessing to them, but he will never enter into fellowship (covenant) with them. No treaties. His trust for provision is totally and exclusively in God. Melchizedek brings out bread and wine - a joyful victory meal and blesses Abram.

The theme of confrontation permeates today's subsequent readings.
  1. The Psalmist righteously cries for deliverance from his enemies - Satan's seed. These could be Abraham's words or Jesus' or even ours, not just David's.
  2. John the Baptist confronts the apostate Jewish religious authorities, who think they stand in the line of Abraham the faithful, but really stand in the line of Satan.
  3. Having healed the lame beggar at the Temple, Peter and John appeal to the people (Satan's seed) to repent and turn to the Lord. The time of amnesty is here. Peter and John are well received by the masses, but it won't be long (next chapter in fact) before the rulers of the age are attacking them again.
Paul was right, everyone who wants to live a Godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Standing firm to the end, awaiting vindication by the Lord and not taking matters into one's own hands is the hallmark of true faith.

Have you died to your desire to be loved / vindicated by the world more than your heavenly Father?

1 comment:

Dove of Creation said...

I suppose if there had been integrity in Pharaoh's heart like Abimelech's (20:6) then God would have prevented him from sinning in such a grievous way against the mother of all God's faithful.