Wednesday, January 12, 2022

220102 The Gospel of Mark--1

 The Gospel of Mark--1                                                                                     220102

During the next three or four months I plan to preach step-by-step through the gospel of Mark! Nowhere in that gospel is the author named. But the strongest tradition of the early church attributes it to a man named John Mark. His mother was one of several Marys found in the Book of Acts. It’s very possible that John was closely associated with the disciples, and with Jesus. He may have been one of the group that was with Jesus when he was arrested. I came to this conclusion when I read: “And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.” These verses are found in Mark 14:51-52.

I realize the account does not name the young man who ran away. For that very reason I’m comfortable giving the credit to Mark as the man who wrote the account. Mark certainly knew that the young man ran away but might not have wanted to identify himself as the local streaker. This bit of information is only presented here. It was John Mark who deserted the apostle Paul on his first missionary journey. When Barnabas wanted to take him along on the second missionary journey Paul absolutely refused. We do know that Barnabas and John Mark began a missionary journey. We do not have a record of that trip because they did not have an historian with them, such as Luke, who joined Paul and wrote his own gospel and Acts. Later writings by Paul shows that Mark was later on an important worker alongside Paul.

John Mark was a close relative of Simon Peter and it is believed that the material he presented in his gospel is a compilation of the teaching of Simon Peter. John Mark’s restoration to useful ministry may have been due, in part, to the ministry of Peter. Peter’s close relationship with Mark is evident from his description of him as “Mark my son” in 1 Peter 5:1.

This book was probably the first written gospel accepted by the majority of the church. Both Matthew and Luke contain the material given to us in Mark.

The first sentence in the book could easily be the title. And would very likely explain why there is no birth narrative nor reference to the early years of Jesus life.

Mark wanted to focus on the gospel story so he wrote:

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Jesus” is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua “the LORD is salvation”; “Christ” the “anointed one” is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word “Messiah.” “Jesus” is the Lord’s human name that the angel gave to Joseph and to Mary; “Christ” signifies His office as ruler of God’s coming kingdom. “Son of God” is an affirmation of Jesus’ deity, stressing His unique relationship to the Father.

Then he picks up with verse two:

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, 3 the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,’ ”

Mark is quoting from the Old Testament prophets. This established his credentials at the beginning. He must not have considered a birth narrative necessary. The John he begins with is John the Baptizer. This John the people knew well. John the disciple tells us that the Baptist began his ministry on the far side of the River Jordan. It was a wilderness place and great crowds came to him to hear the good news. By quoting from the prophets Mark binds the old with the new.

Then Mark began with, “John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

Mark introduces the Baptizer as one who proclaimed their need to repent and seek forgiveness. He did not preach an easy belief gospel. When asked, he gave specific answers to what the various social groups should do as evidence of their repentance. Homework: look at Jesus’ proclamation found in Matthew 11:7-16 and Mark 11:20-33.


Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.

John did not fit in with society’s expectations of a popular preacher. These have not changed much over the years. He called the people who came to him “snakes” and directed them to bear fruit demonstrating their repentance. He knew someone would be following him who would baptize them with Holy Spirit.

I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

He did not name Jesus as the messiah until Jesus arrived at the Jordan. I believe John the disciple did not know, prior to Jesus’ asking for baptism. reported that when Jesus was baptized the Spirit descended on him like a dove. God the Father set the record straight by proclaiming that John called Jesus “The Lamb of God”. John 1:29 and 36

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

The Father clearly identified Jesus as His Beloved Son who pleased him. Today’s expectation of the blessings that come along with the Holy Spirit would not be recognized. When Jesus was baptized Mark tells us: 12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

Having been driven, by the Spirit, into the wilderness, Jesus was there forty days being tempted by Satan. He was sustained by angels who ministered to him throughout his temptation.

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

John was arrested and Jesus took up the message. REPENT! John had reproved Herod Antipas over his marriage to his brother’s wife -- who was also his niece. Herod feared John because so many people followed him. Later Herod would be tricked into beheading John.

Jesus knew he was on Herod’s wanted list and was also wanted by the scribes and Pharisees in Judea. Jesus knew the time had not yet come to confront his enemies. His ministry was just beginning.

Jesus went into Galilee preaching the good news that the Father was confirming in his life. As he traveled he was led to the sea shore of the Lake of Galilee.

16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen.

When we compare the gospel stories we remember that it had been Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, and another disciple to whom John the Baptist twice announced “Behold the Lamb of God…” John 1:29 and 36. Now, a few days later, Jesus saw the same men.

17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him.

There was no hesitation on their part. First Andrew and Simon …

19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

I believe their earlier meeting with Jesus had been the subject of many discussions around their meals and as they worked. Their father had heard enough to convince him that this call from Jesus was to be expected and obeyed. 

Since Andrew had been a follower of John the Baptist it is possible that Peter had been as well. They had evidently returned to their fishing business after John’s arrest. They had already met and spent time with Jesus but were now called to follow Him permanently.

“Jesus defined their regimen “I will make you become fishers of men.”

The greatest call, even today, is to follow Jesus and encourage people to come with you. The greatest joy will be arriving at the throne to find people waiting to stand with you because of your influence in their lives.

All people need to know they are born separated from God. That separation can be corrected. Romans 5:8, God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

And,,, Romans 6:20-23

For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I challenge you. Have you settled your faith in Jesus Christ?

Romans 10:9-10 if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.


All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2016. Wheaton, Ill, Standard Bible Society.

211128 The Golden Chain

 The Golden Chain                                                                                            211128

Romans 8:26-39.  Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


This passage of Scripture is filled with great good news. It begins with the idea that even when we do not know how to pray we have an intercessor. When a person is born again they are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ. The resident Holy Spirit intercedes for us. At the same time as Paul told Timothy, “there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,” (1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus said he would never leave us nor forsake us. (Matthew 28:20) As a consequence, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us as does our mediator the Lord Jesus Christ! But there is more! Our text contains what has been called the “Golden Chain” that cannot be broken. Let’s look at the links in that chain.

The truths contained in today’s message should be a great comfort to God’s people.

God has always acted for the good of his people. Looking back through history we can see God’s hand at work.


Marty Stewart wrote an inspiring song that goes like this:

There is an unseen hand to me that leads through ways, I cannot see.
While going through, this world of woe this hand still leads me as I go.
I'm trusting to, the unseen hand that guides me through this weary land.
And some sweet day, I'll reach that strand Still guided by the unseen hand.

I long to see, my Savior's face and sing the story of his grace.
And there upon, that golden strand I'll praise him for his guiding hand.

The word of God tells us that we should be absolutely clear — God knows everything that will happen before it happens.

Foreknew. Let’s look at Isaiah 46:9-10. remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’

Here, our Father God is affirming the fact that he is aware of everything that happens. He not only knows who will be saved he has already inscribed their names in the Lamb’s Book of Life. God does not save a person because he has looked at the person’s life and knows he will be saved. Whether a person will be saved or not is not based on the fact that God knows they will believe! God, looking into the future, thought of certain people in saving relationship to him, and in that sense, he “knew them”. This is a personal knowledge of the heart of each individual. We are not saved by any action of ours. We are saved by God’s sovereign purpose only.

Those God foreknew he also…

Predestined. Let’s look at Ephesians 1:11-12. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory.

We obtain salvation because we have been predestined according to his purpose.

During Jesus’ time on earth from the time of his birth to his ascension into heaven, the Father thought of us as going through everything that Jesus went through. Jesus is our substitute taking our place and paying the price for our sin. When Jesus perfectly obeyed the Father God credited that obedience to us.

Jesus, who had no sin of his own, took our sin, nailed it to the cross, took it in the grave and left it there! God did this not because of our goodness but because of his loving grace. Once we come into the world our union with Christ becomes real. This is great good news! The Bible tells us that we have died and been raised with Jesus! As a result, we have new life in Jesus. We are, therefore, joined to all other believers as one body in Jesus.

We have died to our old way of living and been born again into a new life. As a consequence of God’s foreknowledge and predestination of us we are…

Called. Let’s look at the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Jesus did not say we will find rest because we are worthy of rest. We are to come to him with all our struggles and enter into his work for us. How do we come to the place where we can put our burdens on him? The calling presented here is an act of God the Father in which he summons people to himself. That summons comes through human agents such as a preacher or missionary and results in saving faith.

Charles Spurgeon asked that rhetorical question one evening while listening to a sermon. In his own words: “The thought struck me, How did you come to be a Christian? I sought the Lord. But how did you come to seek the Lord? The truth flashed across my mind in a moment—I should not have sought Him unless there had been some previous influence in my mind to make me seek Him. I prayed, thought I, but then I asked myself, How came I to pray? I was induced to pray by reading the Scriptures. How came I to read the Scriptures? I did read them, but what led me to do so? Then, in a moment, I saw that God was at the bottom of it all and that He was the Author of my faith, and so the whole doctrine of grace opened up to me, and from that doctrine I have not departed to this day, and I desire to make this my constant confession, "I ascribe my change wholly to God."

We might not go through the same process that Pastor Spurgeon did but I believe everyone who is born again arrives by circumstances beyond our control.

Those who have come to love God should anticipate God’s working good into everything. All of us are like the thief on the cross! We are told nothing about him except that he was a criminal! He knew something about Jesus because he knew enough to ask for help. That man had gone through a similar treatment as Jesus. He had been beaten and required to carry his own cross to the place of execution. He was nailed to that cross and it was raised up to expose him to the rude crowds while experiencing excruciating pain. He also had to put up with the rebuke of his fellow criminal towards Jesus. After asking the man on the third cross if he feared God he turned to Jesus and said, “remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “today you will be with me in paradise.” He brought nothing to the table except his total unworthiness. We bring nothing else either.

There, but for the grace of God, go I!

Everyone God has predestined to be conformed to the image of his son will take on the appearance of the Father.

God called those he had predestined to salvation and he justified them. This word is not used very often today in the biblical sense.

Justified. Let’s look at Romans 3:23-25. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.

We cannot earn our salvation because we cannot justify ourselves. We have all sinned. We have all come short of the standard that God has set for us. Only by the grace of God can we be redeemed!

Justification is a legal declaration by God. God declares the ungodly to be righteous in his sight.

This is not a result of their righteousness but in their faith. Justification means to declare someone not guilty. In God’s legal declaration of justification, he declares that we are just in his sight. It means that he declares we have no penalty to pay for sin because the penalty is already paid in Christ Jesus’ death, burial and ressurection. The second aspect of justification not only says that we are not guilty but goes on to say that we are righteous. We are not righteous in our own strength we are righteous in his. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that, in order to achieve our justification, God made Jesus the Christ to be sin. He had no sin of his own so he could bear our sin. God could then impute his righteousness to us. David, in the 32nd Psalm, pronounced those whose sins are covered as blessed. We have now dealt with the “easy” words in this passage. Now we come to, in my opinion, the more difficult subject — glorification!

Glorified. Let’s look at Romans 8:16-17. The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

The accepted definition of glorification is: “Glorification is the final step in the application of redemption. It will happen when Christ returns and raises from the dead the bodies of all believers for all time who have died, and reunites them with their souls, and changes the bodies of all believers who remain alive, thereby giving all believers at the same time perfect resurrection bodies like his own.” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p 828.)

I do not question the theologians who compiled this statement. I do want to approach the subject of our resurrection body and when it occurs. Ephesians chapter 1 verse 20 proclaims that God powerfully worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in heaven. That is glorification as I understand it! Then in chapter 2 verse six that same power is applied to us. We are raised up with him and seated with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

Let’s go back to our original “Golden Chain”. The links are: “foreknew”, “predestined”, “called”, “justified” and “glorified”. Every one of these words are aorist, active, indicative, third person, singular in Greek. That’s a fairly complicated grammar for non-scholars. It is past tense in English. So, if glorified is past tense it has already happened! Each of the links in the chain is past tense — already happened! Paul’s statement to the Ephesians chapter 2 verse six puts us in the heavenly places! Already a done deal!

You don’t “feel” like it? Using Bill Gillam’s terms, “Rain on your feelings”! God does not live in the same time dimension as we do. In God’s mind if we are born again — that, of course, happened in the past. We are also now seated in the heavenlies. We were with Christ in the punishment of sin on the cross. We were buried with him. And we were raised up with him. Therefore we are glorified with him! Jesus, in his high priestly prayer, John 17, asked the Father to glorify him with the glory that he had with Jesus before the world existed. Then he said, “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,” it seems to me that the doctrine of glorification must include past, present, and future. We were glorified (with Jesus), we are being glorified, and we will be glorified! The chain cannot be broken because God sees it as already done!

This “Golden Chain” promised in the word of God is completely the work of God. There is nothing that we do to make this happen! Our responsibility is to respond to God’s direction. Each of these verbs is past tense. We do not “feel” these things and then they happen. These things happen to us in the mind of God and by his power and then, if He wills, we may have feelings related to it. It is a great and wonderful thing to know that God knows us in a very intimate way, that he destined us to be his children before he created the universe. That, in his time, he called us and we responded because it was his call. Having received the call He justified us and confidently he has glorified us.

We hear his call, feel his hand and respond to God who does the work of salvation!


All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton, Ill, Standard Bible Society.

211121 Thanksgiving

 Thanksgiving                                                                         211121

When we think of a day set aside to offer thanks and give glory and honor to the Lord Jesus, God’s Son and our Savior, we should look at the proclamations issued by George Washington, our first President under the Constitution and Abraham Lincoln, the President during the dark days of the Civil War.

First the words of President Washington.

By the President of the United States of America. A Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us. And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually—to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed—to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord—To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789. Geo. Washington


Then the proclamation of Lincoln.

Washington, D. C., October 3, 1863

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln.


These two documents certainly present an image we would want proclaimed in times of crisis and conflict. There are similar documents offered by most, if not all, of our presidents. I don’t have time to include them in this sermon.

Instead let’s look to the proclamation by the greatest human king in history, David the son of Jessie. Found in 1 Chronicles 16:8-11, Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! 10 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice! 11 Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!


Then we quote the end of David’s Psalm (1 Chronicles 16:35-36).

“Save us, O God of our salvation, and gather and deliver us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise. 36 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting!” Then all the people said, AMEN!


In Psalm 136 the writer –or committee --set forth an abundant list of reasons to give thanks. I will read the affirming statements. I would like the congregation to follow with, “for his steadfast love endures forever.”

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

2 Give thanks to the God of gods,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who alone does great wonders,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who by understanding made the heavens,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who spread out the earth above the waters,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

to him who made the great lights,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

the sun to rule over the day,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

the moon and stars to rule over the night,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,     

for his steadfast love endures forever;

11 and brought Israel out from among them,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

12 with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

13 to him who divided the Red Sea in two,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

14 and made Israel pass through the midst of it,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

15 but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

16 to him who led his people through the wilderness,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

17 to him who struck down great kings,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

18 and killed mighty kings,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

19 Sihon, king of the Amorites,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

20 and Og, king of Bashan,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

21 and gave their land as a heritage,    

for his steadfast love endures forever;

22 a heritage to Israel his servant,        

for his steadfast love endures forever.

23 It is he who remembered us in our low estate,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

24 and rescued us from our foes,

for his steadfast love endures forever;

25 he who gives food to all flesh,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven,

for his steadfast love endures forever.


The Apostle Paul encourages us along with the Ephesians in 5:15-20, Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

We must focus on why we give thanks. We as a nation, a community and a church need to give thanks ALWAYS for everything with all kinds of music. We must do this in harmony with one another. We must always remember to treat each other with respect.

We need to enjoy Thanksgiving but not as TURKEY DAY!

Encourage those in your family and/or circle of friends to receive Christ Jesus as Lord. When they do there will be thanksgiving in heaven. Jesus himself said it, “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”




All scripture quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2016. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


211114 Angels 5

 Angels 5                                                                         211114

We have seen angel activity throughout the bible. It seems strange that the first mention of an angel is with regard to Sarai’s servant, Hagar. Up until that event, so far as we can see, any contact was directly with God. Why did God see fit to relate directly with this servant girl?

Previously God had assured Abraham that he would have an abundant offspring. However the window of human possibility of a child being born to Abraham was rapidly closing. So, “Sarai said to Abram, “Behold now, the Lord has prevented me from bearing children. Go in to my servant; it may be that I shall obtain children by her.” And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai. (Genesis 16:2). As a result the servant girl, Hagar, became pregnant. Then in the course of events she looked down on Sarai and immediately Sarai blamed Abraham. She was the instigator but immediately passed the blame to her husband. As a result of the conflict -- Hagar ran away.

The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude. (Genesis 16:7-10).

So far as I can tell this is the first mention of an angel, as an angel, and he is called “the angel of the Lord”. Angel means “messenger”. The word “Lord”, in this context, is “Yahweh”. Through this messenger Yahweh assured her that this child, conceived in sin, would be a “wild donkey of a man”. And he would produce so many offspring that they cannot be numbered. Abraham was eighty-six years old when Ishmael was born. Sarai would have been seventy-six. They did this to provide the heir that God had promised. It’s very dangerous for us to take on fulfilling God’s direction. It’s one thing to know what God wants to do. It is another thing entirely when we assume we know HOW God wants it done.

Thirteen years later, God again spoke to Abram changing his name to Abraham and renewing the covenant with him. God, once again, promised a child through Sarai and her name was also changed to Sarah. Abraham laughed so hard he fell on the ground when he was told that Sarah would be the mother of the son who would lead to the Messiah. And Abraham asked, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” (Genesis 17:17). Just in case God had not noticed Abraham reminded him of Ishmael. After all Ishmael was Abraham’s son. He’s already here why should we not use him as the heir? God replied “No”, Sarah will have a son and you will call his name “Isaac” which means “he laughs”.

The next report of angels, found in Genesis chapter 18, involved Abraham sitting by his tent when three men walked up. He begged them to stay awhile and have a meal with him. This was normal hospitality in that day. It reminds us of the words of Hebrews 13:2 advising that entertaining strangers might lead to entertaining angels. During the meal the subject of Isaac was brought up. Promising that he would be born to Sarah about the same time the next year. She had been hiding in the tent but she couldn’t hold back the laughter when she heard the message. One of the men, who were really angels, had begun to speak with more authority than the others and the written record called him “the Lord” which is a translation of the name Yahweh. Two angels who had accompanied God in human form to announce the coming birth of the baby that would be called “he laughs” or, just “laughter” and would be next in line to carry on the promise of one who would bless all the families of the earth. (Genesis 12:2).

There are a few other references to angels guiding the family of Abraham and his immediate descendants.

Those two angels continued their journey to destroy Sodom. So the angels were not only messengers they had the power to destroy cities and rescue the people God wanted rescued.

The next mention of an angel speaking was when Abraham was instructed by God to go to the land of Moriah and sacrifice the son he had waited so long to have. The angel of the Lord allowed him to reach the point of raising the knife when he called Abraham’s name and provided an animal to sacrifice. If there was ever any doubt that Abraham trusted God this event was it. Isaac had questioned Abraham on the way. He wanted to know “where is the Lamb”? Abraham’s reply was “the Lord will provide.” He knew Isaac could not die because he had to have offspring to carry on the promise. Isaac would not die until he produced a male heir.

And the next mention of an angel involved getting a wife for Isaac so there could be a continuation of the line leading to the Messiah. Abraham’s chief servant was told to go back to Haran to get Isaac a wife from their family. When he asked Abraham what he should do if the girl would not come. Abraham assured his servant that God would send his angel to guide him. The result of that trip produced a bride for Isaac named Rebekah. 20 years after they married she produced twins. Jacob and Esau were their names. Esau married two local women and this displeased Rebecca. She arranged for Jacob to go back to Haran for a wife because of the hatred Esau had for Jacob. During Jacob’s journey to Padan-aram he dreamed of a ladder reaching up to heaven. He saw on that ladder angels coming and going. This must’ve been very reassuring to him that the Lord would take care of him.

The dream became more than a vision he saw Yahweh at the top of the ladder. During that vision Yahweh renewed the covenant, first given to Abraham, with the promise that he would be with Jacob and Jacob’s offspring would be like the dust of the earth and in Jacob all the families of the earth would be blessed. (Genesis 28:10-17).

When Jacob returned from his trip to Haran he had four wives, 12 children and a vast wealth in cattle and servants. More than 20 years had passed since he had seen his brother Esau or his father Isaac.

Time will not allow us to look at all aspects of the family descended from Abraham. Suffice it to say that Jacob favored Joseph and his brothers were extremely jealous of him. An opportunity came for them to take care of the problem. They could deal with him and they sold him as a slave be taken to Egypt. The consequence of Joseph being sold was that in a few years he moved from being a slave to becoming the Prime Minister of Egypt. Even though his brothers had meant it for evil God had meant it for good.

In his promise to Abraham God had included the fact that his descendants would be strangers in a land that was not their own. They would be slaves for most of 400 years. The account is found in Genesis chapter 15 beginning with verse 13. Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.”

The last phrase, “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete”, gives us insight into God’s justice. In order for God to wipe out an entire nation the people must be completely evil. The 400 year gap would be filled by the people of God being parked in Egypt. Always Yahweh was guiding and blessing people in impossible situations to prepare for the Messiah.

The next angelic intervention was at the end of that 400 year gap. Let me give you some background. In order to weaken the Israelite slaves their midwives were instructed to kill the baby boys by throwing them into the Nile River. One mother just could not allow her baby to be killed. When he could no longer be hidden a water tight basket was prepared and the boy was put in it and placed in the river. Not exactly what the king had ordered but close enough. His sister was given the job of seeing what happened to the baby. Downstream of the place where the basket was placed in the river was the spot where Pharaoh’s daughter bathed every day. I am sure that was part of his mother’s plan. Pharaoh’s daughter sent her servant into the river to retrieve the basket. When she saw the baby she determined to keep it. The sister, all the time watching and waiting, offered to find a nurse for the baby. Of course she brought her mother into the discussion.

The baby boy, now called “Moses”, was raised as a member of the house of Pharaoh. Look ahead 40 years and Moses decided to visit his blood relatives. There he saw an Israelite being beaten by an Egyptian. Moses looked around and decided to do something about this injustice. He killed the Egyptian and hid the body. The next day he was confronted with the knowledge that the killing was known about and he left Egypt to live in the wilderness. Now we look ahead 40 more years and find (Exodus 3:1-6) Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Moses, brought up as a member of the royal house, trained in all the sciences of Egypt was now brought down to tending sheep for his father-in-law. As he led his sheep to the west side of the wilderness he turned to see for himself the burning bush that would not burn. The angel of the Lord here is none other than the messenger of Yahweh. He called Moses to deliver Israel from slavery in Egypt.

Time will not allow us to continue today. Later we will take up this story. In the meantime as we celebrate Operation Christmas Child, Thanksgiving and Christmas we need to remember just as God delivered Israel from slavery then He can deliver those today who are in bondage to sin.

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

God sent his son, Jesus, as evidence of his love to take our sins into his own body and nail it to the cross for his people.

Because the wages of sin is death, which we deserve, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved.

Please, be certain you are in Christ Jesus while you can.



All scripture quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2016. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.



Angels 3                                                                         211017

Where did angels come from? When did they appear on the scene? There is no clear account in the Bible to answer these questions. Genesis 1:31a tells us, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” Now, what does that have to do with angels? We can assume that the angels were created at some point during those first six days. And everything that he had made was very good! That being true, indicates that all of the angels were included in that description. Everything that God made was very good! The angels are not named as part of creation but they must have been included in the word “everything”! The serpent, when introduced in the Garden of Eden, would hardly be considered “very good”! I will go out on a limb and apply the words found in Revelation 12:7-9, Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. And the dragon and his angels fought back, but he was defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. 9 And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world — “he was thrown down to the earth and his angels were thrown down with him.” This must have happened between Genesis 1:31 and Genesis 3:1 putting an end to the time of everything being “very good”.

But can we be any more specific? There may be a hint at the creation of angelic beings during the first 6 days of creation when we read that “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” Genesis 1:1, and then immediately after we read that “the earth was without form and void”, Genesis 1:2a, but with no mention of the heavens in this second verse. This may suggest that the uninhabitable state of the earth is in contrast with the heavens where, perhaps, God had already created angelic beings and assigned them various ranks and roles. This is made more plausible when we read Job 38:6–7 that “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” at the time when God laid the “cornerstone” of the earth and sunk its “bases” in the process of forming or founding it,. If the angels “the sons of God” shouted for joy when God was making the earth inhabitable, this could imply that God created the angelic beings early in the first 6 days of creation. That would allow time to develop the angelic rebellion led by Satan.

However, since we have only hints in Scripture, we must remain content with the fact that God has not given us much information about the time of the creation of the angels. We must remember that God is under no obligation to answer our curious questions. Further speculation, apart from clear scriptural data, would seem to be useless. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God; but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” Deuteronomy 29:29.

Sometime before Satan tempted Eve in the garden an unknown number of angels sinned and rebelled against God. Jude 6, “And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day”.

We are not told how much time passed between Adam being placed in the Garden and the confrontation with the serpent. Genesis chapter 1 gives us the outline of creation on a day-to-day basis. Genesis chapter 2 files in the details. After God ceased creation on the seventh day. No, he wasn’t tired and in need of rest. One problem that people raise is Adam being created in chapter 1 and Eve appearing in chapter 2. Genesis 1:27 concludes with, “male and female he created them.” I believe it’s a very simple matter to know that when Adam was created Eve existed in him. Wherever Adam went Eve was present inside him. The discovery of DNA makes the process more sensible. A period of time passed after the six days. Many things happened during that time. Among the “happenings” was Adam naming all the created beings. During this naming exercise it became clear that it was not good for him to be alone. Anyone with even a little common sense and a little observational skill knows that it is never been good to leave men alone. Therefore the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam and took something from his side. It wasn’t a rib. When he woke the Father God presented him with what had always been inside him. I suggest we do not have a complete record of the event. Adam must’ve had some response before he spoke the little poem. I think his response might have been something like, “Wow”! Then he could have said: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman (ishshah), because she was taken out of Man (ish).” Scripture gives no more information on the creation of angels. We are told that there are many angels with names, or titles that probably represent different ranks, or orders of angelic beings. Gabriel, is named in Daniel 8:16. He also names himself when he speaks to Zechariah, the soon to be father of John the Baptist, and a little while later in speaking to Mary about the soon to be conception of Jesus in her.

Michael is the only named archangel. In Daniel 10:13, Michael is called “one of the chief princes” and in Jude verse nine he is called an “archangel”.

In Isaiah 6:1-3 the prophet is confronted in the temple by “the Lord” seated on a throne. Above this magnificent Lord were the Seraphim. They were described as having six wings. “with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.” They were praising the Lord. We are not told how many Seraphim were there. Since this is the only biblical reference to these exotic creatures about them. Apparently they are designated to praise God. I have heard many teachers refer to this appearance as Isaiah seeing God. In the original language, Aramaic, the word used is not Yahweh it is “adonay”. That word does not point to God but to an honored being. Perhaps the Lord Jesus, I know, He is God, but he does take on human form. And may show himself as human throughout the Old Testament. Maybe not.

An amazing warrior appears to Joshua when it is time to take over the Promised Land. This event is recorded in Joshua 5:13-15, Joshua does not ask his name instead he asks, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” Joshua refers to him as a man. The warrior identified himself as the commander of the army of the Lord with no commitment as to being for or against Israel.

Angels are sent to help us. We need understanding of the spiritual world around us.

When Elijah was waiting out the drought before he would confront Ahab the king. God did something that is very interesting to me.

It is found in 1 Kings 17:2-6. “And the word of the Lord came to him: 3 “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. 6 And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.”

I have a vivid imagination. As I read this passage I can see Elijah camped out by the brook. Morning and evening I see ravens passing through the king’s residence and picking bread and meat off the table and dropping them at the prophet’s camp in obedience to God’s directions. As you can see there are many examples of God caring for his people through an intermediary.

We have seen how God sent an army of spirit beings to protect Elisha and his servant against the army of Syria. The event is recorded in 2 Kings 6:15-17.  When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” 16 He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.




Now, I would like to share with you another event from the life of Peter.

The account begins as the church is facing stiff opposition. Herod the King began the process of arresting Christians. He had James, the apostle John’s brother, arrested and killed with a sword. James became the first martyr among the apostles. It seems his place in leadership was taken by James, half-brother to our Lord Jesus. The event was recorded in Acts 12:1-18.

Peter was put in the public prison. His defense team gathered in Mary’s upper room. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.

Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. 11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” 12 When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John.

I want you to think about the scene. James has been killed and Peter was chained to two guards in prison. The church was gathered to pray for Peter. Peter, realizing there was nothing he could do to help himself, was asleep. The angel woke Peter up to find the room filled with light. The chains he was bound with fell off him! The angel said “get dressed” and “follow me”. Remember, the two guards sleeping on either side of him. Peter could not believe this is really happening. They passed by two more guards and the iron gate swung open to let them out onto the street. The angel led him some distance away from the jail and left him.

A few minutes before Peter could not believe this was happening now, he could not deny it. He hurries to Mary’s house to report to the church that their prayers had been answered.

When he arrived there he pounded on the gate and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she heard Peter’s voice which she knew very well she turned and rushed in where the church was gathered praying for Peter’s rescue. They must’ve been Baptist because they could not believe he was really at the gate. Goodness! This is what they were praying for and they were surprised? Peter had to keep knocking to shake them out of their disbelief and get someone to come to the gate. The church saw him and were amazed. Peter gave them some instructions and went into hiding.

That’s one example of angels at work. Now, let’s look at an example from the life of Paul. He had spent two years in confinement. He had shared his testimony more than once to governors and kings as well as the common soldiers who guarded him. In order to prevent him being taken before the Jewish leaders, who were determined to execute him, he appealed to the Emperor, Nero. He could do this because he was a Roman citizen.

He had been all over the eastern portion of the Roman Empire. He had planted churches and had encouraged them to grow. Now it was time to go to Rome. It certainly looked as if he was going to be drowned rather than executed. He and his guards, as well as other prisoners, had taken ship across the eastern Mediterranean rather than walking the many miles to Rome. Now they had been many days in a storm. When it looked as if there was no hope at all an angel appeared to Paul. Read Paul’s record of the message. “For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship, 24 and he said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar. And behold, God has granted you all those who sail with you.”  Now he had something to report to the ship’s company. He stood up and said, “I told you so”! He had confidence in the words of the angel because he had been given a promise by the Lord Jesus Himself. When he was first arrested he must have begun to doubt he would live to do the trip to Rome. In his disappointment at being arrested in Jerusalem after his arrest The following night the Lord stood by him and said, “Take courage, for as you have testified to the facts about me in Jerusalem, so you must testify also in Rome.” Acts 23:11. He had God’s promise he would go to Rome. No ship wreck or snake bite would prevent him.



All scripture quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2016. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

211024 Angels 4

 Angels 4                                                                         211024

Prior to this series of sermons I have never done an in-depth study of angels. I innocently opened with Hebrews 13:2, Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Since then I have dug into what the Bible has to offer on the subject. I make every effort to keep every comment based on scripture. If not I will admit what I am sharing is an opinion not necessarily a fact. I do not pretend to know all there is to know.

During the process of creation the angels came into being. So far as I can tell God has not chosen to enlighten us concerning the process of creation outside the earth. We have Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The words “created the heavens” are filled with mystery. We can look around us and see for ourselves the earthly creation. In the deep dark of a moonless night we can see the planets and stars. Genesis 1:31 tells us, And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. So, without doubt the angels came into being at some point between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:31. Also, the angels were part of a “very good” creation. Genesis 3:1 introduces “the serpent” who is clearly evil and is in rebellion against the God who created him.

How much time passed between the “very good” creation and the serpent entering the Garden? There is no way to answer that question. We can look at the genealogy in Genesis 5 that tells us Adam lived 130 years before Seth was born. Now, I assume those years included the time spent in the Garden of Eden, the births of Cain and Abel, the murder of Abel and Cain’s departure to begin his rebellious nation. So far as we know Adam did not keep a chronology. God gives us all we need to know. Some events occur, according to Genesis chapter two. Those events required passage of time. Weeks? Months? Years? No way to tell. In Revelation 12 we are told about a war in heaven. A war between Michael the archangel and his angels with the dragon and his angels. The dragon is described as being “that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan”. Obviously, God knew how much time passed and he did not see fit to enlighten us on the subject and many, many more subjects. Subjects we spend too much time guessing about. Listen to the Apostle paul, Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, (Colossians 2:18).

So let’s not get too far off the pursuit of angels. In the period between Adam and Noah angels were unnecessary because Godly people (the sons of God) had direct contact with God. There is no mention of angels until the time of Abram the man who became God’s friend. The first mention of the term “angel” is in relation to Hagar, Abram and Sarai. Hagar was a servant of Abram and Sarai his wife. She had been impregnated by Abram in order to provide a male heir. Hagar ran away after Sarai became jealous.

The record is found in Genesis 16 beginning in the middle of verse 6. Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her. The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, servant of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am fleeing from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress and submit to her.” 10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the Lord said to her, “Behold, you are pregnant and shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has listened to your affliction.

Thirteen years later, when Abram was 99 years old, the Lord appeared to him. The story is recorded in Genesis17. God is identified as “Yahweh” and then God calls himself “El Shaddai”. During that meeting God establishes the covenant of circumcision and promises a son who should be named Isaac. God changed Abram’s name to “Abraham” which means “father of a multitude”.

Then again in chapter 18 the “Lord” appeared to Abraham and revealed his intentions with regard to Sodom and Gomorrah. But first an amazing revelation. Three men came to Abraham’s tent at the Oaks of Mamre. Abraham showed the hospitality of a meal to them and They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” 10 The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. 12 So Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” 13 The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh”. (Genesis 18:9-15)

Do you remember three men who broke bread with Abraham? Yet when the men arrived in Sodom there would only be two! One stayed behind to discuss what was about to happen and that one is identified as Yahweh! The two who went on to Sodom are called angels. This is the second event where the word “angel” appears in the Bible.

The first time was when the angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar when she ran away. There is a real difference between the two events. The difference is not obvious in the English language.

Several passages of Scripture speak of the angel of the Lord in a way that suggests that he is God himself taking on a human form to appear briefly to various people in the Old Testament.

In some passages “the angel of the Lord” (not “an angel of the Lord”) is spoken of as the Lord himself. So “the angel of the Lord” who found Hagar in the wilderness promises her, “I will so greatly multiply your descendants that they cannot be numbered for multitude” (Genesis 16:10), and Hagar responds by calling “the name of the Lord who spoke to her “You are a God of seeing” ’ (Genesis 16:13). Similarly, when Abraham is about to sacrifice his son Isaac, “the angel of the Lord” calls to him from heaven and says, “Now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me(Genesis 22:12). When “the angel of God” appeared to Jacob in a dream, he said, “I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar and made a vow to me” (Genesis 31:11, 13). Again, when “the angel of the Lord appeared to Moses in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush, he then said, “I am the God of your father the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:2, 6). These are clear instances of the angel of the Lord or the angel of God appearing as God himself, perhaps more specifically as God the Son taking on a human body for a short time in order to appear to human beings.

These events, and many more found in the Old Testament, seem to contradict God’s command that we cannot look at God and live. In Exodus 33:20 God tells Moses “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.”

At the same time Moses was meeting with the Lord face to face as a man speaks to his friend. (Exodus 33:11). How can this be? I believe the answer is found in the existence of God as three natures, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When the men came to the tent of Abraham they had all three taken on human bodies. This allowed them to interact with human society. This action is not the same as Jesus appearing as a man. Every instance of temporary incarnation came to an end except for Jesus’ incarnation.

In order for Jesus to become man he first had to have a human mother. Then his body developed from 2 cells until he was delivered into his humanity in a stable in Bethlehem. Then he had to grow up through all the stages of human development. Then in the end of life he suffered for our sin. This made him like us. In Hebrews 2:14-18 we find this explanation. Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

Jesus became man in order for us to understand, because we do not want to say that Jesus acquired additional knowledge or information by becoming man: certainly as omniscient God he knew every fact there was to know about the experience of human suffering. But the book of Hebrews 2:18 does say,Because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted”, and we must insist that that statement is true—there is a relationship between Jesus’ suffering and his ability to sympathize with us and help us in temptation. Apparently the author is speaking not of any additional factual or intellectual knowledge, but of an ability to recall a personal experience that he had himself gone through, an ability he would not have if he had not had that personal experience.

Some faint parallel to this might be seen in the fact that a man who is a medical doctor, and has perhaps even written a textbook on obstetrics, might know far more information about childbirth than any of his patients. Yet, because he is a man, he will never share in that actual experience. A woman who has herself had a baby (or, to give a closer parallel, a woman physician who first writes a textbook and then has a baby herself) can sympathize much more fully with other women who are having babies.


Ellis Crum wrote a song many years ago that goes like this:

He paid a debt he did not owe
I owed a debt I could not pay
I needed someone to wash my sins away;
And now I sing a brand new song, “Amazing Grace” all day long.
Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.


He paid that debt at Calvary
He cleansed my soul and set me free
I’m glad that Jesus did all my sins erase;
I now can sing a brand new song, “Amazing Grace” all day long.
Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.


One day he’s coming back for me
To live with him eternally
Won’t it be glory to see him on that day!
I then will sing a brand new song, “Amazing Grace” all day long.
Christ Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.
Yes, Jesus paid the debt that I could never pay.


All scripture quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2016. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.