Monday, January 15, 2007

A Rare Religious Moment

I am contributing to a booklet of Lenten meditations for my church. Since I wrote something and I haven't posted anything in a while, I thought I'd give the Daddy D readership a preview of Lent Week 5 Tuesday...

Abraham is the father of faith, and we are taught to believe that we are Abraham's descendants and heirs of his covenant promises. God said to Abraham in Genesis 17:4, "Behold, my covenant is with you and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations." Does this mean that our physical ancestry can be traced to one man? Or, does it mean that a multitude of nations are the beneficiaries of his unwavering, seemingly unimaginable trust and obedience of God’s commands? In Genesis 12:3 God said to Abraham, "By you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." God created a genetic roadmap which would lead the world from Abraham to Jesus. We learn that everyone who trusts in Christ would become an heir of Abraham's promise and heirs to an eternal kingdom, God’s promise declared unto mankind.
So when God said to Abraham, "Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations," He opened the way for any person from that moment forward to become an heir of God's promises. Generations later, when Jesus walked the Earth and brought a message of hope, forgiveness and eternal life to men, he was laying the groundwork for a new covenant. God sacrificed his own son to save us from ourselves. In today’s world, the words from these lessons should give us confidence that God works for us.
Today we would say faith in Jesus, who is the fulfillment of God's promises -- is the way to become a child of Abraham.
Jesus challenged the people of Israel to accept his word as the revelation of God. His claims challenged the foundation of their beliefs and their concept of God. Jesus claims unique knowledge of God and makes a breathtaking claim: that the only way to full knowledge of the mind and heart of God is through himself. He is declaring that the way he lives is the standard to which men and women of all generations should aspire.
The Jews asked Jesus, “Who do you claim to be?” He answered, “Before Abraham was, I am.” He is telling them that he has been alive in some form for thousands of years, perhaps without beginning. He is putting himself on a plane with the Creator. Jesus was not just a man who came, lived, died, and then rose again. He is the immortal timeless One,* who always was and always will be. His death and rising make it possible for us to share in his eternal life.
The verses appointed from Psalm 105 tie these lessons together. The New Testament chronicles miracles or “marvels” credited to Jesus, who could do these things because he is God. The marvels in the psalm are precursors to the Wonders of Jesus. The consistent thread of covenant in verses 8, 9 and 10 leads us to the brink of redemption. God agreed to protect his people if they agreed to love and obey him. This means we strive to be Christ-like in our daily lives, because that honors God’s promise to us: The promise of a new and everlasting covenant for us and for all men means that sins will be forgiven, that the gates of Heaven are open. We gain entry by being children of Abraham’s faith, brothers and sisters in Christ’s death and resurrection.

*"The immortal Timless One" is a phrase I lifted from someone else's writing, which I can't find again. It stands out, though, and I didn't want to accept any credit for it.

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