GODíS LOVE FOR THE HUMAN KIND
WHO ARE GODíS
To clarify this subject of Ďwho are Godís chosen people?í I would like to refer to the book of Genesis in the Bible.
While the world was in a state of terrible idol worship, about 352 years after the flood of Noah, God chose Abraham from Ur of the Chaldeans. The LORD said to him,
Abraham was 60 years old when God called him. He waited 15 years in Heran until the death of his elderly father who was an idol worshipper. He then left for the promised land. He had a wife named Sarai who was barren.
Abraham said to the LORD, " O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?" And Abram said "You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir."
Then the Word of the LORD came to him:"This man will not be your heir, but a Son coming from your own body will be your heir." He took him outside and said, "Look up at the heavens and count the stars - if indeed you can count them." Then he said to him, "So shall your offspring be."
"Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness." Genesis 15:2-6
Unfortunately, after some time had passed, Abram and Sarai lost their patience. They both forgot that God is faithful and true to His Word. The word impossible does not exist with God. Sarai who had a maidservant named Hagar from Egypt, suggested to Abram to have a child by her. Hagar conceived and bore him a son named Ishmael.
When Hagar conceived, Abram thought less of his own wife. Sarai lost her respect due to her own foolishness. If Abram and Sarai had trusted Godís promise to them both, she would not have been made small before her own maidservant.
Abram had listened to Sarai and decided to keep his generation from the maidservant Hagar. He had not obeyed God and had failed to trust His big promise to him. When Abram was ninety- nine years old, the LORD appeared to him & said, "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless (meaning live before me and be perfect as until then Abram had not lived blameless). I will confirm my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers."
Abram fell face down, and God said to him, "As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God."
Then God said to Abraham, "As for you, you must keep my covenant, you and your descendants after you for the generations to come. This is my covenant with you and your descendants after you, the covenant you are to keep: every male among you shall be circumcised. You are to undergo circumcision, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and you."
Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his decendants after him. Then Abraham said to the LORD, "If only Ishamel might live under your blessing!" God said, "And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac whom Sarah will bear to you by this time next year."
While Abraham was one hundred years old and Sarah ninety, and had passed her child-bearing age, God gave them a son and they named him Isaac (meaning Laughter).
Sarah had difficulty accepting Hagar and her son Ishmael, hence she told Abraham, "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave womanís son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac."
The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said to him, "Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the maid servant into a nation also, because he is your offspring. But my covenant I will establish with Isaac.
Altogether Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. Ishmaelís descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the border of Egypt, as you go towards Asshur. And they lived in hostility towards all their brothers. The Arab nations of today are all his descendants. God said of him; "He will be a wild man. His hand will be against every man and every man's hand against him."
Although Isaac was fourteen years Ishamelís junior but in every aspect he was the son of the first wife, the promised one and his future was what God had planned from the beginning. It is obvious that God had not planned His promise to Abraham around Hagarís son Ishmael. He had promised Abraham a son but had never said it would be through Hagar. As Abraham and Sarah could wait no longer and wanted to bring about Godís promise with efforts of their own, they moved their eyes off the LORD and looked to Hagar to be the bearer of the fruit. With it they brought about the bitter fruit which was to remain with them and all their descendants.
After some time the LORD appeared to Isaac and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in the land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and kept my requirements, my commands, my decrees, and my laws.
Isaac became the father of twin boys named Esau and Jacob. Jacob the younger was favored in Godís sight.
After Isaacís death Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place he stopped for the night, for the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with itís top reaching to heaven and the angelís of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD and He said, "I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."
After Jacob came from Paddan Aram, God revealed Himself to him again and said; "Your name is Jacob (meaning deceiver), however henceforth you shall no longer be called Jacob but your name will beIsrael (meaning victorious through God). So He named him Israel. He had four wives and his twelve sonís were as follows: The sons of Leah: Reuben the firstborn of Jacob, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. The sons of Rachel; Joseph and Benjamin, The sons of Rachelís maidservant Bilhah: Dan and Naphtali. The sons of Leahís maidservant Zilpah: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob, who were born to him in Paddan Aram. Each one became head of a tribe.
Ïn Genesis 15:13 we read; Then the LORD said to him,"Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and ill-treated for four hundred years." This word was no doubt to come true, so in order for them not to fall into the temptation of intermarriage to other nations and be defiled, God had prepared the way by sending Joseph to Egypt ahead of time. Joseph was to prepare food for the famine which was to happen soon. The journey to Canaan was made ready for them.
It is written that Israel loved Joseph his youngest more than the rest, so this made his brothers jealous and they sold their brother Joseph for twenty pieces of Silver to Ishmaelites. They took him to Egypt.
Joseph, after many years in Egypt achieved the second highest position after Pharaoh. After seven years a great famine hit Egypt and the land of Canaan. Israel and all its descendants (with the exception of the wives of his sons and Josephís sons) who were born in Egypt (totaled seventy) came to Egypt and lived there. So Israelites greatly increased in numbers.
After a time a new king became the ruler in Egypt who did not know Joseph and ill-treated the Israelites. For four hundred years they were slaves in Egypt and became a numerous nation. Their enslavement period came to pass and it was now time for freedom. As they had suffered much pain and distress, they pleaded before the God of Israel. So God chose Moses to help free His people. With mighty power and many wonderous miracles He brought them out of Egypt. He divided the Red Sea so that they may pass through and come to Mount Sinai. The details of their journey is recorded in the book of Exodus. After a year had passed from their deliverance from Egypt the LORD gave his people The Law. With clear guidelines from the LORD they built the Tabernacle, conducted sacrifices, and performed their worship and prayer.
At the end of the year when they had reached Kaddesh, they stopped going further and avoided taking the promised land. God punished them because of their sinful behavear for this and for forty years left them in the wilderness at Sinai dessert. In spite of His punishment, He miraculously both fed and clothed them throughout this time. By day The LORD walked before them in a cloud and by night in a pillar of fire to guide them.
After forty years in the wilderness, the Israelites under the leadership of Joshua marvelously passed through the river Jordan and entered the promised land (a land of milk and honey) and took it over.
God, for the first time taught His nation what Sin was through His Law. He chose Aaron, the brother of Moses, to lead His nation and to be a generation of priests to them.
In Leviticus 17:11 we read,"For the life of a creature is in the blood and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for oneís life. Therefore I say to the Israelites, "None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood."
Hence God forbid the eating of blood and said, whosoever eats blood will be cut off from me.
The LORD established His sacrificial offerings in the form of burnt offering, flour offering as the first fruit of the harvest, sin offering, wave offering (for health) and sacrifice offering for the assembly. This was to be performed through the priesthood before Him. The details can be found in the book of Leviticus. The Israelites had to bring their sacrificial offerings to the door of the tabernacle where the assembly would gather and slay the animals before presenting it to the priest so that he could perform the ceremony. He had to sprinkle the blood of the animals on the altar near the assembly entrance and also burn the fat so that it would be a pleasant aroma before the LORD.
In Genesis 49:1 it is written, then Jacob called for his sons and said, "Gather round so I can tell you what will happen to you in the days to come. Assemble and listen sons of Jacob, listen to your father Israel. He prophesied about each of his sons. About Judah he said, Thescepter will not depart from Judah, nor the rulerís staff from between his feet, until Shiloh (Messiah) comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his." From that time forth the Israelites have been waiting for the Messiah to come from the house of Judah.
Some individuals believe that The Old Testament is different to the New Testament, and that it was a historic event recorded and does not apply to us today. However, in studying Godís Word with care we realize that The Old Testament is the bearer of much prophecy and itís the same as the New Testament for which the prophecies have been fulfilled.
We shall review some of these prophecies made by the prophets. Some seven hundred years before Christ was born, the prophet Isaiah in chapter 7 and verses 10-14 of his book writes, again the LORD spoke to Ahaz,"Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights" but Ahaz said, "I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test." Then Isaiah said, "Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the LORD Himself will give you a sign: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (meaning God with us)."
Daniel the prophet prophesied about the coming of the Messiah, "Sixty nine weeks after the decree for the restoration of Jerusalem is given, He will come."
This command according toEzra7:12 was given by Artaxerxes, king of kings who was the king of Persia. In Genesis 29:27 we read that each week is equal to seven years. Hence sixty nine weeks equal four hundred and eighty three years.
In Proverbs 30:4 It is written, "Who has gone up to heaven and come down? Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of His hands? Who has wrapped up the waters in His cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and the name of His Son? Tell me if you know!"
Matthew 17:1-5 reads:"After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the Sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, " LORD, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters - one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, "This is my Son whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to Him!"
God willed to save mankind, for this purpose Jesus should empty himself of his heavenly glory and take up flesh, be born of a woman like the rest of us, to prove his wholeness and like a lamb without blemish and sin should carry the sins of the world upon his shoulders.
In accordance with Davidís prophecy about the Messiah, a thousand years B.C. in Psalm 22, it says, "they pierced his hands and his feet yet none of his bones were broken, they devided his garments among themselves and casted lots for his clothing," he went to the cross. He poured out his blood as the perfect sacrifice to replace the blood of animals which used to be poured according to Mosesí Law. This was the complete sacrifice given for the sins of the world once and for all time upon the Cross of Calvary. On the third day as prophecied in Psalm 16:10, "Because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay." He rose from the dead, after fourty days ascended to heaven and sat at the right hand of his Father in glory.
In Leviticus 16, God commanded through Moses saying, "Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the Ark, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover." Aaron had to perform great many rituals in order to enter The Most Holy Place once a year and make atonement for his own sins and the sins of the Israelites. Aaron was to enter the Sanctuary area with a young bull for sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. He was to put on his sacred linen tunic with linen undergarments next to his body: He was to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These were sacred garments; so he had to bathe himself with water before he put them on. He was to put the incense on the fire before the LORD, and the smoke of the incense on the fire before the LORD, the smoke of the incense will conceal the atonement cover above the Testimony so that he would not die. He then had to enter the blue curtain and take some of the bullís blood and with his finger sprinkle it on the front of the atonement cover. Aaron the High Priest had to conduct all of the rituals mentioned in Leviticus 16 to make atonement for his own sin offering and the peopleís.
But Godís Word in Hebrews 9:11-12 speaks of Jesus Christ; When Christ came as High Priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect Tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. He did not enter by the means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered The Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.
In other words, just as Aaron sprinkled the blood of the animals in front of the atonement cover for the Israelite community and entered behind the blue curtain in front of the atonement cover, so Jesus the High Priest through the pouring of his own blood once and for all made the atonement for the sins of all who believe in him. He then ascended beyond the blue sky and sat at the right hand of the Most High.
Exodus 12 explains, the lamb that was to be slaughtered for the Passover had to be three year-old-males without defect; this was a type or shadow of Jesus Christ. They had to take care of the lamb from the 10th to the 14th of the month to ensure there was no defect. In the same light, Jesus Christ (The Messiah) was tested in all things for a period of three years. This was to be the proof if he could be the perfect Passover sacrifice/atonement.
We see Jesus facing all of Satanís temptations, the lovelessness and the hard heartedness of all the leaders and the Pharesees of Israel and withstanding them all. He came through all trials pure and blameless and proved that indeed he was the only acceptable sacrifice for the true Passover. For God has said; "Sin must be judged and according to Godís Word, sacrifice is needed for a sinner to be saved.
The prophet Isaiah in chapter 53 of his book prophecied about the Messiahís suffering and death: " Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet he considered himself stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth, he was led like a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
By oppression and by judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants, for he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no voilence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the LORDís will to crush him and cause him to suffer and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and besatisfied. By his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great and he will devide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."
Jesus looked at the bitter cup he had to drink at the Garden of Gethsemane, focusing on the ingredients, yet on the cross he drank it and offered himself as Sin Offering and made atonement for us before God and brought sinners their salvation. For a holy person who had never known sin it was excruciatingly painful to drink the cup filled with sin. This is why he prayed three times: "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will but as you will."
It is hard to imagine how sad and difficult it must have been for this holy person who had not known sin to be on one side and the bitter cup filled with the sins of the world on the other. Yet because he so loved sinners and wanted to break Satanís stronghold on human beings and give glory to his Almighty Father in heaven, he received the cup which was filled with every kind of ugliness, idol worship, theft, bribery, lies, murder, adultory, homosexuality, deception, pain and suffering, physical and emotional sickness plus a thousand more problems and evil acts. Satan was trying to persuade him not to drink the cup. But Jesus said,"The ruler of this world ( meaning Satan) is coming but he has no authority over me."
Our human nature is such that when we see a problem we try to overcome it with our own efforts. But the Saviour laid down his life and accepted his fate to fulfill the prophesies.
Obedient unto death on a cross, he had to drink the bitter cup to the end. Though he hated death, he agreed to it. He knew of the judgment of sin, yet he bore it. All he thought about was our Salvation and giving God the Father the glory. He said, "Not my will, but Yourís be done."
The LORD willed for Jesus to bear death so that His will could be done, to save you and me and everyone else who believes in him. Jesus was the only person being sinless and without blemish that could have atoned for the sinners. Not his tears or his sweat which poured out like blood unto the ground, neither his destitution nor sadness and pain in the Garden of Gethsemane could have saved us. Only his death on the cross had power to cleanse us sinners and give us eternal life, for he offered himself to God pure and blameless.
Godís Word in the letter to Hebrews 9: 27-28 says,"Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people. And he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."
In the Old Testament the High Priest was the mediator between God and the house of Israel. This was a type of Christ who is our High Priest and mediates for us before God.
Prophet David in Psalm 110:4 says; The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind:
"You are a Priest forever in the order of Melchizedek."Jesusí priesthood is divine and was decided by God before time. The setting up of the Tabernacle and the rules and guidelines for building it which were given to Moses on the mount in great detail, was not solely a worldly shape of things applicable only to Moses and the house of Israel, but again this was a type or a shadow of Jesus Christís Eternal Priesthood.
According to Godís Word in the past Israelites were: The only God fearing nation, the children of promise, and the people with a given Law living among pagan nations. Hence they were chosen by God.
But Godís Word in Galatians 3:6-14 says, Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Understand then, those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and announced the Gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. All who rely on observing the Law are under curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law."
Clearly no one is justified before God by the Law, because, "the righteous will live by faith." The Law is not based on faith; on the contrary, " The man who does these things will live by them." Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
WHAT FAITH CAN SAVE US?
In John 3:13-18 Jesus said to Nicodemus who was one of the greatest leaders of the Law, "No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven - The Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who belives in him may have eternal life."
"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of Godís one and only Son."
Godís Word says, "All have sinned and are slave to sin." God has offered the promised blessing to the believers through our faith in Jesus Christ. Before Salvation through faith we were all prisoners of the Law which controlled us; awaiting the faith to come. Hence the Law was our minder taking us to Christ so that through faith in him we might be justified. Now that we live by faith we are no longer under the minderís care. For faith has made us Godís children through Jesus Christ. So there is now no difference between Jews and Gentiles, Slave or Free and male or female, for we are all one in Christ Jesus. If we belong to Christ then we are Children of Abraham and as said in Godís Word, "we share in his inheritance."
Dear friends, due to misconceptions that exist among our people I feel the need to explain that following Christ has nothing to do with becoming an Armenian or Assyrian, neither does it make one European or American. Christianity is not a dry religion, it is a deep and caring friendship between God and humans. Jesus Christ puts our hand in Godís, who is Holy and free from every evil thing.
Godís Word clearly states that a sinner has no power to befriend his Holy God except through Jesus Christ who shed his blood on the Cross for our sins and became the perfect sacrifice. After his resurrection from the dead he ascended to heaven and sits at Godís right hand and interceeds for us.
Dear ones, whatever your race, creed or nationality, through faith in Jesus Christ you can become a child of God and a member of His chosen people.