Vision

In Paul's second letter to Timothy he writes, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man [and woman] of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Tim 3:16-17) My prayer for this ministry is that by rightly dividing the Scriptures, I might be able to facilitate all those aspects of the Scriptures to the benefit of all those who visit this website.

Mission

The mission of this ministry is to be consistent with Jesus' original command to his disciples: "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'" Matthew 28:18-20

Personal Disclosure

I am a fellow traveler who doesn't have all the answers and still makes many mistakes. However, I am desperately in love with Jesus Christ, the one and only King of kings, and I am so amazed that he knows exactly who I am and yet still died on the cross for me, then rose from the dead and called me to be His follower!

God's Message To You

"Dear Child,

I wanted you to know just how much I loved you so I sent my only Son, Jesus, to tell you and show you. If you make the decision to believe in Him, then you and I will be able to spend eternity together! I Love You!" (John 3:16 paraphrase)

Method

“Here there is no unanchored liberalism—freedom to think without commitment.

Here there is no encrusted dogmatism—commitment without freedom to think.

Here is vibrant evangelicalism—freedom to think within the bounds laid down by Scripture.”

Dr. Vernon Grounds

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Divine Tapestry


(Audio Version)





Prayer

            In light of the events around the world, I wanted to offer a prayer to those who have to endure so much during this time:

            “Heavenly Father I want to pray for peace for those places in the world ravaged by strife and war. I especially want to lift of Israel and our brothers and sisters in Christ who are being threatened by evil daily from all sides. If peace is not possible then please watch over them and protect them if it is your will that they must endure this time of persecution. We acknowledge that you are sovereign over all your creation. Please help us pray that your will be done and please bring the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ to all of Israel and to all Jewish and Christian persecutors. I pray these things in the name of our great King, Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Introduction

            Like many other Christians, my daily devotions include Scripture reading. It usually takes me a little more than a year to read through the entire Bible. I’ve been doing it for years and I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve read through the Bible as part of my devotional practice and my theological training. If you think I read the Bible incessantly because I have to as a Christian or as a pastor, you’d be wrong. There are plenty of Christians who rarely pick up a Bible let alone read one and there are many pastors who open their Bibles merely as part of their ministerial duties. I read it incessantly because no matter how many times I read it, I always find a part that makes me say, ‘I don’t remember reading that the last time.’ I also read it because I see myself in the words on the pages and live out my relationship with God through those words. I don’t always see how everything applies to me specifically but I know I’m part of the story and I want to be in a relationship with the Author that wrote me into His story. Of course, this is part of my personal devotional exercise. Theologically, God’s story is a calling of a people to Himself. It is the story of salvation past, salvation present, and salvation future. The theological key is understanding how the salvation story fits together.

One of the things that can be difficult to understand is how the Old Testament and the New Testament form a continuing narrative. Many understand the Old Testament as one narrative and the New Testament as another with only a few faint threads in common. However, I contend that the Old Testament is part of the New Testament and together they form A Divine Tapestry. God is the divine Weaver of the tapestry that has as its central elements Israel, Christians and the Messiah Savior of both. Why is this important? Because some Christians have joined the foolish voices of unbelievers screaming to abandon Israel in the never-ending struggle against their neighbors who are tireless in their efforts to destroy Israel as a nation and the Jews as a people. Behind the opposition to Israel on the part of unbelievers is an irrational yet unmitigated hatred for Israel dating back thousands of years. Behind the opposition to Israel on the part of Christians is old fashion biblical ignorance. However, anytime there is any behavior on the part of humanity that is unbiblical (unbiblical being defined as any behavior that contravenes God’s will and instructions as provided to us through the Scriptures), we find Satan skulking about influencing and working through unbelievers and at the same time deceiving believers so they will, through their biblical ignorance, unwitting join his efforts of constantly opposing God’s will and plan for the salvation of humanity. The purpose of this lesson is to follow the thread through the biblical narrative beginning in the Book of Genesis and ending with the Book of Revelation with the hope that at the end you will be able to see how God, throughout the Scriptures, weaves together Israel, the Christians and Jesus into A Divine Tapestry.

Subject Texts

Genesis 3:1-24

            1Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” 2The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” 4“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?10He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” 11And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?12The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” 13Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” 16To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.17To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.20Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. 21The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. 22And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

Genesis 12:1-3

            1The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. 2I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

Genesis 28:10-17

            10Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. 11When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13There 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. 14Your 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. 15I 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.” 16When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

Genesis 35:10

            10God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel.

Genesis 35:22b-26

            22bJacob had twelve sons: 23The sons of Leah: Reuben the firstborn of Jacob, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. 24The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. 25The sons of Rachel’s maidservant Bilhah: Dan and Naphtali. 26The sons of Leah’s maidservant Zilpah: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob, who were born to him in Paddan Aram.

Malachi 3:1-5

            1“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty. 2But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years. 5“So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty.

Malachi 4:5

            5“See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.”

John 1:23

            23John [the Baptist] replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”

John 1:35-51

            35The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!37When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where he was staying, and spent that day with him. It was about the tenth hour. 40Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter). 43The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” 44Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. 47When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.48“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.” 49Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.50Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.” 51He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Luke 24:19b-35

            “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. 28As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” 33They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

Acts 1:13b-26

            13bThose present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. 14They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. 15In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16and said, “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus—17he was one of our number and shared in this ministry.” 18(With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) 20“For,” said Peter, “it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,’ and, ‘May another take his place of leadership.’ 21Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” 23So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.

Acts 11:19-30

            19Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. 22News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. 27During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

Romans 11:1-32

1I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: 3“Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”? 4And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace. 7What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, 8as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.” 9And David says: “May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them. 10May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.” 11Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring! 13I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry 14in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. 17If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. 22Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. 23And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree! 25I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 26And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. 27And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.28As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, 29for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. 30Just as you who were at one time disobedient to God have now received mercy as a result of their disobedience, 31so they too have now become disobedient in order that they too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to you. 32For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

Romans 16:20a

            20aThe God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.

Revelation 21:9-21

            9One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. 12It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. 13There were three gates on the east, three on the north, three on the south and three on the west. 14The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15The angel who talked with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city, its gates and its walls. 16The city was laid out like a square, as long as it was wide. He measured the city with the rod and found it to be 12,000 stadia in length, and as wide and high as it is long. 17He measured its wall and it was 144 cubits thick, by man’s measurement, which the angel was using. 18The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. 19The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. 21The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.

Revelation 22:1-5

            1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever.

Weaving The Tapestry

            When my daughters were little, we read to them every night before bed. Some of their favorite books were called I Spy. It was a series of books filled with colorful images. The objective was to find certain images embedded in a particular illustration that form part of the overall picture yet stand out from the picture. It was a great game for the kids because it burned off any remaining energy they may have had for the day. The game usually ended when they said, ‘Dad, I’m tired and need to go to sleep.’ Imagine hearing that from a little kid! Anyway, the point was to look deeply at the illustration on a particular page to find what you don’t necessarily see with a simple glance. Some of the things you’re asked to find are blatantly obvious but others are so cleverly intertwined in the image that they can take hours to find. It can be like that when we try to see the images in the tapestry woven by God throughout the Scriptures—some things are blatantly obvious while others are intertwined in the overall narrative of the text. Within the Subject Texts above are the threads of A Divine Tapestry if we will only look deeply instead of just giving the Scriptures a simple glance.

            Creation was cursed because of the sin first committed by Adam and Eve. Nevertheless, God called Abraham through whom a nation would be born. Abraham’s son, Isaac, had a son name Jacob who had twelve sons that formed that nation. God would change Jacob’s name to Israel and the nation of twelve sons would be known as the twelve tribes of Israel. Through the lineage of one of those tribes, the tribe of Judah, God would provide the One to deal with humanity’s sin and reverse creation’s curse. Israel would live in anticipation of the One, the Messiah, that was written about by Moses in Law and by their prophets. There would be signs leading up to the Messiah Israel was expecting and those signs would point directly at Jesus. Jesus would, in fact, prove to be the Messiah Israel was anticipating for so many years. Unfortunately, most of Israel, led by the religious leaders, refused to accept Jesus as that Messiah and put Him to death. However, it was precisely through Jesus’ death that God provided the means for humanity to be absolved of its sin and His resurrection from the dead signaled the reversal of creation’s curse inaugurated by the original sin of Adam and Eve. Before Jesus’ death and resurrection, He assembled a group of twelve men that would take the salvation message of Jesus’ death and resurrection to the rest of the world. These twelve men would come to be known as the Apostles of Christ. By their witness, and those who believed them, another nation would be born—a nation known as Christians. Christians are not a nation intended to replace the nation of Israel as some may have you believe. Instead, the Christian nation will be instrumental in leading Israel to faith in the Messiah the Jews have so long been waiting for—faith in Jesus Christ. At the end of time, there will be a new beginning; a new creation; a new heaven and a new earth; a new Holy City; a new Jerusalem. The gates of the new Jerusalem will be memorialized by the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve foundations upon which the new Jerusalem will be built will bear the names of the twelve apostles. And finally, the temple that occupied the center of the old city will be replaced in the new Jerusalem by God Himself where all believers of Jesus, Jews and Gentiles, will worship together.

            If you ever wonder why Christians should prize the existence of Israel as a nation or the Jews as a people, remember that the Jews are one of the threads, along with Christians, being woven by God into a beautiful tapestry of God’s love relationship with humanity and His creation—A Divine Tapestry.