Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
The Covenant to Jacob - Lent Mid-week 4 - March 6, 2013 - Text: Gen. 28:10-22
Our text for this evening is Genesis 28:10-22: “10Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11And 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. 12And 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! 13And 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. 14Your 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. 15Behold, 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.” 16Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” 18So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was Luz at the first. 20Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, 22and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.’” This is our text.
This year during the season of Lent and Easter we are following the thread of God’s promise to send a Savior for all people (one covenant, not two). We began in the Garden of Eden when God first made His promise to send a Savior to Adam and Eve, before there was a Jew or Gentile. We continued with the reiteration of the covenant and the announcement of its fulfillment being narrowed, that is that the Savior of all nations would be born through the line of Abram whose name was later changed to Abraham. Last week we followed as the covenant was reiterated and continued through the line of Abraham’s son, Isaac. This week we move ahead to God’s reiterating His promise to Isaac’s son, Jacob.
We have been following along through history in order to make sure we understand that there are not two covenants that God made, one with Israel and one with the rest of the world, but one and only one covenant, with all people. We know this fact to be true because, as we started out, we know that God first made His covenant with Adam and Eve. He made His covenant with Adam and Eve immediately after they disobeyed Him, ate of the forbidden fruit and brought sin and death into the world. God’s covenant with Adam and Eve and all people, before there were the various people and culture groups of today, was that He would send a Savior for all people, of all places, of all times..
God remembered, reiterated, and narrowed the fulfillment of His covenant to Abraham and Isaac. God chose Abraham and his family, including his son, Isaac, and grand son, Jacob. God’s covenant was that He would bless this family so that they would be a great nation of His people. They were to be a nation pleasing to the Lord. And through this nation, all nations of the world would be blessed as through this nation the Savior of the world would be born. And this nation was to bear witness to all the world of the Savior. As we know from looking back at history, this plan of God’s never came to fruition and instead, Israel was a sinful nation, just as all people are sinful and so they forfeited the blessings God had intended for them.
Anyway, this evening we turn to the fact that just as God reiterated the covenant He made to Adam and Eve to Abraham, and then to Isaac, so God’s covenant was reiterated to Jacob as well. God’s promise to Jacob was that He would give Jacob and his descendants the land on which he lie, “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” (v. 13). So, here again was the promise of the physical promised land, contingent on the faithfulness of Israel, and the greater promise of a spiritual promised land of heaven, contingent on faith.
God further promised Jacob that his offspring would be like the dust of the earth, “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” (v. 14 a). Here again is the promise to make Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, a great physical nation in this world, and a greater spiritual nation in heaven, contingent on faith.
And God further promised that in Jacob and his offspring all the families of the earth would be blessed, “and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (v. 14 b), in other words, this is the ultimate spiritual promise of a Savior for all people, of all places, of all times.
So, again, the facts concerning God’s covenant to Adam and Eve, Abraham, Isaac, and now Jacob are these: God made one covenant and only one covenant, not two covenants. And this one covenant God made was not a covenant of genetics, or DNA, it was not a physical covenant dependent on human beings, but it was a covenant of grace. It was God who made the covenant. It was God who chose to whom He made His covenant. It was a covenant that could not be chosen, taken, or accepted, but only could be refused.
The covenant was first given in the Garden of Eden, before there were the cultural and people groups, what are often referred to as the various races we have in our world today. The covenant was given by God and was given for all people.
As God remembered His covenant, not that He had forgotten it, but as the time approached for God to fulfill His covenant, He chose Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, not to make a new covenant, but to narrow the line from which He would fulfill His covenant.
What does this mean? The Christian faith and church began in the Garden of Eden. It was when God first promised to send a Savior, a Messiah, a Christ, that the Christian faith and church began. It was faith in the promised and coming Christ that made one a Christian and that brought forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. It was faith given by God’s grace.
God’s promise of a Christ, a Messiah was reiterated through time until He brought about its fulfillment. Jesus was born, lived perfectly, fulfilled all of God’s promises, all of God’s covenant perfectly, suffered, died and rose for our sins, for us, for each and every one of us, for you and me, and for all people, of all places, of all times. Just as the people of the Old Testament were saved by God’s grace, through faith, given to them by God, as they looked forward to and believed that God would fulfill His promise to send a Savior, so too, we are saved by God’s grace, through faith, given to us by God, in Jesus, as we look back and believe that Jesus died for us.
It is the religion of Judaism that began with the birth, life, death, resurrection and especially it began with the rejection of Jesus as the Messiah. The first non-Christians were those of the Jewish faith who denied Jesus as the Messiah. Most all of the Christians who first believed Jesus to be the Messiah were of the Jewish faith and ethnic background.
So, as it always has been and always will be, it is by faith in Jesus that we are children of Abraham and the new Israel. Even as Jesus Himself said, God can raise up children of Abraham from stones, reminding us that we are His children, by His grace, through faith in Him which He gives to us.
We are children of the covenant, by faith He gives to us. We rejoice because Jesus came for us. He came to live the perfect life for all of Israel and for us because they could not nor can we. Jesus came to fulfill all God’s promises and prophecies concerning the coming Messiah perfectly and then He took all the sins of all people, of all places, of all times on Himself and suffered and died paying the price for our sin. All because of His great love for us.
Today it is important that we continue to remember and follow God’s covenant because His covenant is a covenant, not based on human desire, need or work, but based on Jesus and His work of salvation for us. We need that constant reminder of our part in Jesus suffering and death. It was not only because of Adam and Eve’s sin, not only because the earth has been cursed, not only because we are conceived and born in sin, but also because of our own actual sins that Jesus had to come and die to pay the price for our sins.
And finally, let me continue to remind you that even before God began creation, He knew what was going to happen. Even before God began creation, He could look through time and He could see us, you and me. Because of His great love for us, for you and for me, He set into motion, not only creation, but also our redemption. Yes, you and I put Jesus on the cross. Yet, He went to the cross willingly because of His great love for us. At our Baptism He put faith in our hearts and made us His children. As we confess our sins and hear His words of absolution, as we hear His Holy Word read and proclaimed, as we partake of His body and blood in His Holy Supper, we are strengthened in our faith, we participate in His life, death and resurrection, and when our last hour arrives we will meet the Lord and we will be given His robes of righteousness. And all we can do is rejoice and give Him thanks, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.