Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | August 2, 2006

It’s All Greek to Me – Part 4

Still no time to resume our series on the Belgic Confession.  However, I have a few more Bible studies that can be published until we resume our topic.  I must say the previous three studies were a joy to present to the audience that I had who were for the most part recovering from drug or alcohol dependancy. 

What is your favorite story (apart from the Bible) either a book or movie? 

The Story of Redemption – Part 1: Acts 3:17-26 

1.       Is the Bible one story or is it a combination of unrelated stories without a common theme or plot?

2.       How should we read the Bible?   

“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

3.       The Bible is a compilation of 66 books written by 40 different authors over a period of 1,500 years.  However, there is a common theme that can be traced from beginning to end.  Isn’t this amazing?

4.       What is this common theme?  Over next few weeks we will attempt to sketch out this theme that is continuous throughout the Scriptures.

5.       The Story begins:  God creates the world, He creates man and woman, He gives them the task of tending the garden of Eden, conditions are imposed on Adam and Eve, they undergo temptation and Adam and Eve violate conditions.  This is known as the Fall of man and it has plunged God’s good creation into a curse. 

Genesis 3:14-19:  The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”  

6.       In the midst of the pronouncement of curses a ray of hope is mentioned?  What is this ray of hope?

7.       Other translations use the word seed in lieu of offspring. Who is this Seed or offspring that is referred too?

8.       A major theme in the Scriptures is the tracing of this Seed and how God fulfills the redemption of this fallen world. 

9.       After the fall the consequences of sin are so enormous that wickedness overwhelms the thoughts and actions of mankind.  What does God do in reaction to this?

10.   Who does God preserve from this reaction?  Is this in part to fulfill the promise of the “seed”?

11.   God preserves the “seed” through the line of Shem who lead us to our next major character in redemptive history – Abraham.  He was chosen from an idolatrous people and God promised to use him in His redemptive plan. 

Genesis 12:1-3: Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 

12.   Why is this statement familiar?

13.   One of the challenges of this promise that is revealed in Scripture is the fact that Abraham and his wife Sarah were childless until they were very old (100 and 90 respectively). However, God did keep His promise and instituted a sacrament that His people were undergo as a sign of salvation.  Circumcision was that sign that Abraham applied to himself and all in his household.  How does circumcision signify our salvation? 

Genesis 21:1-11:  The LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” And the child grew and was weaned. And Abraham made a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned. But Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, laughing. So she said to Abraham, “Cast out this slave woman with her son, for the son of this slave woman shall not be heir with my son Isaac.” And the thing was very displeasing to Abraham on account of his son. 

14.   The seed continues through the line of Isaac not Ishmael who was a son of Sarah’s maid.

15.   God also tests Abraham by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac, this is a foreshadow of the Father having to give up His Son.

16.   Isaac was the father of Jacob and Esau.  Although, Esau was the firstborn God determined that the seed would continue through Jacob.  Jacob was not the most honest person he took it upon himself to swindle Esau birthright and blessing from Isaac.  This caused him to flee in exile from Canaan to Haran and it was on this journey that God revealed the promise directly to Jacob. 

Genesis 28:10-15: Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the LORD stood above it and said, “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.  Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. 

17.   Again we hear the promise of the Seed being a blessing to all the families of families of the earth.

18.   What is the significance of the land promises to the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Israel)?

19.   What do you think the significance of the ladder is within the vision? 

“It is Christ alone, therefore, who connects heaven and earth:  he is the only Mediator who reaches from heaven down to earth: he is the medium through which the fullness of all celestial blessings flows down to us, and through which we, in turn, ascend to God…We also, who were not only fixed to the earth, but plunged into the depths of the curse, and into hell itself, ascend even unto God.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Genesis. 

20.   While in exile Jacob is blessed with wealth and many sons.  He eventually returns to Canaan with his entire family.  How did Esau receive him? 

Genesis 35:22-26:  Now the sons of Jacob were twelve. The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon,
Levi, Judah
, Issachar, and Zebulun. The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin. The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s servant: Dan and Naphtali. The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s servant: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddan-aram.
 

21.   Jacob whom God later named Israel was troubled by his children.  Out of jealousy the brothers sell Joseph into slavery.  Reuben sleeps with one his concubines and disgraces him.  Simeon and Levi murder an entire village due to their sister Dinah being raped.

22.   Although, Judah was not perfect he is assigned the birthright (since the three older brothers forfeited this right) to carry on the line of the promised Seed.  We see this in the following prophecy by Israel (Jacob) 

Genesis 49:10-12:  The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. Binding his foal to the vine and his donkey’s colt to the choice vine, he has washed his garments in wine and his vesture in the blood of grapes. His eyes are darker than wine, and his teeth whiter than milk.
 

23.   Although Joseph was sold into slavery God blessed him and caused him to be raised to a prominent position in Egypt.  He was able to interpret Pharoah’s dream and prepare for a severe famine in advance.  This famine was severe in Canaan as well and could have endangered Israel and his children.  However, in God’s providence Joseph’s insight and preparation saved his family from starvation. 

Genesis 50:20:  As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. 

24.   Doesn’t this resolve the problem of evil?  Somehow God accomplish His will through the actions of human beings. 

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