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His Master's Voice
Copyright © 2007, 2008 - All rights retained by author
Written by: C. W. Booth

November 4, 2007

Abraham was Glad to See My Day

In recent weeks I have been engaged in, and consumed by, a heads-down study of the deity of Jesus. Needless to say, this has taken me into John 8. When we think of John 8, it is common to jump immediately to verse 58 and to concentrate almost to distraction on the phrase, "Before Abraham was born, I am."

But another phrase caught my attention today. "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad" (John 8:56). What did Jesus mean? Matthew Henry puts forward a number of theories about how it might have been that Abraham saw the day of Jesus and rejoiced. One of the most credible possibilities he mentions is the one implied by Hebrews 11:13, "All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth" (Hebrews 11:13).

Of course, it is also possible that Jesus is alluding to the time when He, as part of the Trinity, appeared to Abraham as if He was "three men" (Genesis 18). At that time, Almighty God said He appeared to Abraham in the form of three men to tell Abraham he was going to have a son, a son through whom a nation would be grown, and a son through whose lineage the Messiah (Jesus) would ultimately flow. Surely this could have been what made Abraham rejoice.

Yet, I feel the context of John 8 gives one more deep insight.

"So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. "I know that you are Abraham's descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. "I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father." They answered and said to Him, "Abraham is our father." Jesus *said to them, "If you are Abraham's children, do the deeds of Abraham. "But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. "You are doing the deeds of your father." They said to Him, "We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God." Jesus said to them, "If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. "Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. (John 8:36-43)

"Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death." The Jews said to Him, "Now we know that You have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and You say, 'If anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death.' "Surely You are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do You make Yourself out to be?" Jesus answered, "If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing; it is My Father who glorifies Me, of whom you say, 'He is our God'; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." So the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple. (John 8:51-59)

Jesus made Himself to be greater than Abraham, the father of the entire nation, by saying, "I come from God, who is My father." Jesus does not disclaim Abraham as being His father, but He asserts that God is also His father.

Rattled, the Jews argue back that Jesus is a liar when He claims that those who abide by His word shall never die. They correctly point out that Abraham died, just like all the prophets. Yet, Jesus makes this point, "Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." Then He concludes with, "before Abraham was born, I am."

With that phrase, "Abraham rejoiced to see My day," Jesus may well have been saying, "Abraham is not dead, he believed Me and lives still. I was with him in heaven, and when I left heaven to be born as man, begotten as a child, he rejoiced in Heaven."

The Jews had accused Jesus of being a liar about the promise, "if anyone keeps My word he will never see death." Of course, Jesus meant eternal death, not the death of the body. When Abraham died, only his body died, but he continued to live, and to rejoice, in heaven. Jesus was no liar. Abraham believed and lives still.

"But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living." (Matthew 22:31-32)

 

November 8, 2007

Struck by Four Verses

Watching television with my wife, we came across a program where a famous chef was assisting a failing restaurant to rebound. This chef simply had terrible manners and language. As did the restaurant owner. One theme kept returning in their uncivil shouting matches: the chef was trying to help the restaurant owner, and the owner did not want the help. The owner was self-deluded about his competence, his confused notions of what makes a restaurant desirable to the public, and his unfettered jealousy of successful restaurant chains. As a result, he rejected, pushed back, and froze out the one man who could assist him reach success.

That episode of "reality t.v." brought me back to Scriptures. Four verses to be specific.

Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, But who can stand before jealousy? (Proverbs 27:4)

Many times we hear that anger is the worst sin a man can embody in his flesh. Yet, Proverbs 27:4 explains that while anger is a horrible flood, it is surpassed by jealousy in its ability to crush, overcome, conquer, and destroy. For example, Cainís root sin was jealousy, not anger. One who is jealous is more willing to harm others they perceive to be in their way, to freeze out anyone whom they envy, and to actively resist and subdue those with the talent to help them so as to not have to share their glory and fame of success.

Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. (Proverbs 27:5)

Have you ever been told by someone, "I have great affection for you in my heart, but I have no time to spend with you," or, "I have affection for you, but I donít like confrontation so Iím not going to talk to you." Scripture tells us that "love concealed" is essentially valueless and self-serving emotional tripe. In fact, with regard to children, love concealed is called hatred (Proverbs 13:24). But to offer a rebuke so as to help another overcome a problem or to see a blind spot, to keep them from wandering deeper into trouble, that is love, and is far superior to "love" concealed.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6)

Friends who risk all to offer painful correction, or a perspective far different than your own, are working out their love for you in the most admirable and self-sacrificing manner possible. Notice that it is your enemy who offers flattery, not your friends. Honor most highly those friends who give you the distressing truth, and be very wary of those flatterers who seem to gush over you nonstop. One is a friend, the other is not. And woe to the one who replaces the occasional surface sting of friendshipís love for the poisoned honey of flattering enemies.

A lying tongue hates those it crushes, And a flattering mouth works ruin. (Proverbs 26:28)

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[Note: the above essay was originally posted as a blog entry which I wrote and put online November 8, 2007. As such, it was subject to public commentary as is customary with blogging. As a practical matter, I normally delete the comments entered on the blog site when building this essay archive. If you wish to read the comments posted by others about the essays, you are invited to go online, read them, or post your own comments.

However, on a few occasions the comments and perhaps my own responses to the comments are so core to understanding the essay, or the implications of the essay, that I have chosen to incorporate them, as I have done below.]

Comments to the November 8, 2007 post entitled: Struck by Four Verses

Begin Comment 1:

My wife pointed out the obvious, which of course, I had missed. Jealousy (covetousness) is expressly named in the 10 Commandments. Anger is not so expressly named, because anger is at times permissible. "Wrath is fierce and anger is a flood, But who can stand before jealousy?" (Proverbs 27:4) "For jealousy enrages a man, And he will not spare in the day of vengeance." (Proverbs 6:34)

Posted 11/8/2007 2:13 PM by C. W. Booth

End comment one

Begin Comment 2:

That couldn't have been a very entertaining program! The one thought that is sticking with me, is "it's your enemy who offers flattery, not your friends." If people could just remember that, it would help them be discerning. Thanks for your insights.

Denise

Posted 11/8/2007 7:06 PM by Denise

End comment two

 

November 12, 2007

The Voice of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving need not be a secular holiday. In our house we rarely think much of the early settlers or the native peoples who celebrated the first Thanksgiving together. We focus our attention on our gratitude toward God.

Gratitude is the heart and essence of giving thanks. Without gratitude, there is no genuine thankfulness. Some thirty times the Lord encourages us to have an attitude of thankfulness, to always pray with thanksgiving, to sing thankfully, and to give God sacrifices of thanksgiving. An additional one hundred or more verses inform us to simply give thanks to God. The sacrifices of thanksgiving can be seen in works of ministry and service to the saints, which results in hearts of gratitude that overflow into thanksgiving to the Lord (2 Corinthians 9:12).

Gratitude for salvation and entrance into the kingdom is the motive by which we offer God acceptable works of service and obedience:

Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:28-29)

Yet, even before we offer our joyful thanksgiving to God, we must approach Him with clean hands and a pure heart, first confessing our sins to God, then reconciling with and forgiving our saved brethren with whom we have disagreements. Only then may we approach the altar to offer our sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise.

I shall wash my hands in innocence, and I will go about Your altar, O LORD, That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving and declare all Your wonders. O LORD, I love the habitation of Your house and the place where Your glory dwells. (Psalms 26:6-8)

"Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. (Matthew 5:23-24)

And our righteous gratitude breeds joyful thanksgiving, which we offer back to God.

I shall give thanks to You, for You have answered me, And You have become my salvation. The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone. (Psalms 118:21-22)

I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it, And I will wait on Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones. (Psalms 52:9)

Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His works with joyful singing. (Psalms 107:22)

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. (Psalms 95:2)

As you Prepare for Thanksgiving, you are invited to read a humorous article my wife has written on making preparations for, and cooking, a traditional Thanksgiving dinner (http://thefaithfulword.org/cookturkey.html ). Have a gratitude filled and blessed Thanksgiving celebration.

 

November 20, 2007

Top Ten Things You Will Hear at a Thanksgiving Dinner

(no, it's not from Letterman...he wishes... )

  1. What are we having for dinner?
  2. No, Tommy, the turkey did not swallow a snake, that was just itís neck, now stop hitting it with your bat and put it in the sinkÖ
  3. Iím not one to criticize, but, wasnít there supposed to be another ingredient besides only chestnuts in chestnut stuffing?
  4. Oh, didnít I tell you, Martha? Iím allergic to poultry.
  5. Yes dear, thatís a big bird, for a chicken, but this is ThanksgivingÖ
  6. Yes, that was funny. And remember the year when we forgot to turn on the ovenÖIíll be right back
  7. Mary, that was a lovely shepherdís pieÖpumpkin pie???
  8. It just looks wonderful, but, is it supposed to be frozen like that inside?
  9. No, Tommy, no one shot the turkey with an arrow, and thatís not an arrowhead, itís a pop-up thermometer.
  10. Honey, the meal was fine, really! Iím just saying that next time you deep fry a turkey you might not want to put stuffing in it firstÖ

May God be praised for the salvation He has brought to us through Jesus, for the freedom to worship Him, and for the bravery of our military abroad--may they be able to return home soon!

 

November 28, 2007

Was Jesus Created by God?

On a fairly regular basis my wife and I have been hosting a Bible study with a couple of folks who do not believe in Christ as the Lord God Almighty. They believe Him to be a god that is inferior to YHWH (Yahweh, Jehovah). In fact, they accept as true that YHWH created Jesus as His first act of creation, then went on to create the rest of the universe.

As I have been studying this view, one of the passages with which I inevitably had to wrestle was Revelation 3:14.

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: (Revelation 3:14)

Now, they say this is a proof text that Jesus was the "beginning creation" (first created being) of the creation of God. But that is very odd wording if it means that. So I booted up my copy of e-Sword, and did some concordance work, verse counting, and word comparisons. "Beginning" in this passage is the Greek word "arche." Here is how I classified the usages of the word "arche" as it is found in all of the New Testament:

I found 55 occurrences of arche in the New Testament (excluding Revelation 3:14)

  • Identifies a date in historical calendar time earlier than other days - 33 times
  • Defines a magistrate, ruler, law, or governing authority - 11 times
  • Describes the first event in a sequence of events - 4 times
  • Used as a title for God (the Beginning and the End) - 2 times
  • Used to express a concept as being elementary (basic, primal) - 2 times
  • Descriptive of the edges of a cloth, literally, its corners - 2 times
  • A principle place of residence - 1 time
  • The first person or object in a list of persons or objects - 0 times

Since Jesus is not a calendar date, there is no reason to apply that usage to the word "arche" in Revelation 3:14. Since the word never means "the first person in a list or among a group of other persons," it would be wrong to impose that meaning onto Revelation 3:14. Only the meaning "ruler" really fits.

Remind them to be subject to rulers [arche], to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, (Titus 3:1)

and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule [arche] and authority; (Colossians 2:10)

Then He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning [arche] and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost. (Revelation 21:6)

What I concluded is that Revelation 3:14 is best rendered into English as the following:

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the ruler of the creation of God, says this: (Revelation 3:14, NASB with alternate rendering applied)

Blessed are all those whom He has called to worship the ruler of the creation. One day, we will be with Him forever.

 


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