Why Is the Purification for a Woman Twice as Long for a Daughter than a Son?

LEVITICUS 12

Leviticus 12 gives the ritual of purification for a woman after she gives birth to a child. One issue that is particularly difficult to understand in this chapter is why the time for purification for woman is twice as long when she gives birth to a daughter versus when she gives birth to a son.

As when we looked at Genesis and Abraham’s offering of Isaac, most of the commentaries are not very helpful in truly understanding what this passage is about. Many of the commentary writers even admit they are stumped as to why the ritual of purification was different for a daughter than for a son.

In this teaching, I am going to offer a possible explanation.

COMMENTARIES: NATURAL OR CULTURAL EXPLANATIONS

The New American Commentary: Leviticus provides a typical view of Leviticus 12. It says, “The reason purification needed to be made after childbirth is not given in the text. Some in fact find it curious in view of the fact that God gave man the mandate to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Calvin believed that the existence of a depraved offspring in the womb created uncleanness. While there may be truth to this assertion, a more likely explanation would be that it was the contact with the blood of childbirth that defiled. The latter explanation is supported by the fact that being in the menstrual state rendered one unclean. The similarity of this condition to giving birth is explicitly made in the text.”

When one sees that menstruation is the shedding of blood, which I believe is linked to the crucifixion of Jesus, then the need for purification is pretty obvious.

Again, The New American Commentary: Leviticus provides a typical view on the longer time of purification for the mother after the birth of a daughter. “Common explanations include: (1) females were understood in some sense seen [sic] as inferior to males, (2) the longer amount of time involved for the formation of the male and female embryo, (3) the fact that the blood discharges after the birth of a female last longer or have greater toxicity than they do after the birth of a male, and (4) the fact that women are associated with the pains of childbearing that come as the punishment for sin. With regard to the uncleanness of the mother after the birth of the son being only one week as opposed to two, the difference of this length of time may be found in the text itself. The length of uncleanness after the birth of a son is interrupted by the command to carry out the circumcision on the eighth day. If the mother was considered ceremonially unclean on the eighth day after the birth of her son, it could be conceivable that she would be able to witness her own son’s circumcision.” The commentary continues that there is no consensus. It details other cultural issues that may speak to the longer time of purification at the birth of a daughter.

In another commentary, the author admits that he has no idea why the time of purification is double for a daughter versus a son. The author simply chalks it up to the whim of God. At least he’s honest.

Take note that virtually all the commentaries focus on natural or cultural explanations for the uncleanness of the mother and for the time of uncleanness lasting twice as long for a girl than for a boy. Hardly a one considers any “supernatural” explanation of Leviticus 12. Jesus is almost never mentioned. But, before we get to Jesus, let’s get a handle on the surface understanding of the Leviticus 12.

MOTHER, SON, AND DAUGHTER

The focus of this short chapter is on the mother who gives birth. The chapter details how the mother is to become clean after giving birth. There are two different cleansing rituals: one for the birth of a son and one for the birth of a daughter.

UNCLEAN AND CLEAN

The words unclean and clean appear a total of five times in this short chapter.

The first half of the chapter details the woman’s uncleanness and the length of time she is unclean.

If the woman conceives and bears a son, then she is unclean for seven days. After this seven day period, the son is circumcised on the eighth day. Then, the woman continues in the blood of her purifying for another 33 days, which includes the eighth day.

If the woman bears a daughter, then she is unclean for 14 days. After this 14 day period, the woman continues in the blood of her purifying for another 66 days.

Therefore, the time periods are twice as long for the birth of a daughter as they are for the birth of a son. The time of the woman’s uncleanness is 7 days for a son but 14 days for a daughter. The time for the blood of the woman’s purification is 33 days for a son but 66 days for a daughter. The total time of uncleanness is 40 days for a son but 80 days for a daughter.

We are also told what it means to be unclean. While the woman was unclean she could not touch anything holy and she could not come into the sanctuary. This means that the woman could not worship with the rest of the congregation of Israel. The issue at stake was worship. It is important to note that the son or daughter was not unclean. Therefore, they were able to worship while the mother was not.

The second half of the chapter details how the woman becomes clean after the 40 or 80 days of uncleanness. The process for becoming clean is the same regardless of the child born being a son or daughter. This shows that the difference in the length of time of the woman’s uncleanness for having a son or daughter does not have to do with the sex of the child. If it did, then we would expect there to be a difference in the process of becoming clean for a son or a daughter.

In either case, the woman needed to bring to the priest a lamb a year old for a burnt offering and a pigeon or turtledove for a sin offering. If the woman was too poor to afford a lamb, then she could offer two pigeons or two turtledoves, one for a burnt offering and one for a sin offering. The priest would offer these before the Lord and make atonement for the woman.

BLOOD

The words blood and menstruation appear five times in the chapter.

In the first half of the chapter, the word menstruation, which is the shedding of blood, and the word blood, as in the blood of the woman’s purifying, occur four times. The process of giving birth is linked to menstruation, or the shedding of blood. Therefore, it is the shedding of blood that makes the woman unclean.

In the second part of the chapter, the word blood is mentioned just one time. When the priest has made atonement for the woman, the woman is said to be clean from the flow of her blood.

A LITERAL FULFILLMENT BY MARY AND JESUS

Luke 1 and 2 records the literal fulfillment of Leviticus 12 by Mary and Jesus.

The angel Gabriel was sent from God to Mary. Mary was a virgin betrothed to Joseph. In Luke 1:31, Gabriel said to Mary, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son.” Leviticus 12:2 says, “If a woman conceives and bears a male child.” Notice that in both cases the woman conceives a child and no father is mentioned. This is about the woman.

Luke does not specifically say that Mary was unclean for seven days. But, Luke does write in 2:21 “at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised.” This is in fulfillment of Leviticus 12:3, which says, “And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised.”

Luke 2:22-24 says, “When the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.’” Here we have Mary and Jesus completing the fulfillment of Leviticus 12.

Mary and Joseph were taking Jesus up to the temple to set him apart to the Lord. This was in fulfillment of Exodus 13:2, which says, “Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.” When Jesus was presented in the temple before the Lord, he would be consecrated, set apart, holy to the Lord. But, Leviticus 12:4 said that Mary, as the woman who bore a son, could not touch anything holy or come into the sanctuary until the 33 days in the blood of her purifying were completed. So, we know that Jesus was not presented in the temple, which would have made him holy, before this 33 days was completed, otherwise Mary would not have been able to touch. Also, Luke 2:27 says that Mary and Joseph brought Jesus into the temple. Mary would not have been allowed to enter the temple if the 33 days in the blood of her purifying had not been completed.

Another confirmation that Mary’s 33 days were completed was that they offered a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons at this time. This was what those who could not afford a lamb offered when the mother’s days of purifying were completed according to Leviticus 12:6, 8. Interestingly, 2 Corinthians 8:9 says that Jesus was rich but for our sake he became poor. We know this because Mary and Joseph offered two turtledoves or pigeons instead of a lamb.

So, Luke 1 and 2 gives us a literal fulfillment of Leviticus 12 by Mary and Jesus. The only problem is that this doesn’t address the woman who bears a daughter and the times of her purification being doubled because she had a daughter instead of son. Therefore, I think there is a greater fulfillment to be found.

A GREATER FULFILLMENT – ISRAEL, JESUS, AND THE CHURCH

According to the Passover, Jesus was selected as the lamb of God on the 10th day of the month, which was the first day of the week. He was crucified on the 14th. The seventh day would have been the last day of the week, Saturday, or the Sabbath. This speaks to a week of uncleanness.

Luke 24:1 says, “But on the first day of the week.” The disciples went to Jesus’ tomb the first day of the week, eight days after he was selected as the lamb to be sacrificed. When Jesus was resurrected on the eighth day he had put off his natural body and taken on a spiritual body. We know this because nobody was able to recognize him right away after the resurrection. It was as if his natural body had been circumcised on the eighth day.

Acts 1:3 says, “He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” In Leviticus 12, we know that the woman that bore a son had seven days of being unclean, on the eighth day the son was circumcised, and then she continued in the blood of her purifying for 33 days. The total time of her purification was 40 days.

Therefore, in Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension we can see a second fulfillment of Leviticus 12, which I believe speaks to a greater fulfillment.

Throughout the Old Testament, Israel is pictured as God’s wife. In Leviticus 12, I think we can look at Israel as the woman who bore a son. Jesus was the son that came forth from Israel. Israel was unclean for seven days, or a complete period of time. The woman in Leviticus 12 was unclean for seven days as at the time of her menstruation. Menstruation is the shedding of blood. So, Israel, as the woman, was unclean for these seven days because it was the time when she shed the blood of Jesus.

Jesus, as the son, was resurrected, or circumcised from his natural flesh, on the eighth day. Baptism, circumcision, and resurrection are linked together at different points in the New Testament.

Then, Israel continued in the blood of her purifying for 33 days. The number 33 speaks to the complete time of Jesus’ work. Also, the total time of 40 days for Israel’s purifying represents the complete time of her testing.

But, where does the woman who had a daughter come in?

Like Israel, the church is pictured as a woman throughout the New Testament. The church is the bride of Christ. But, where did the church come from? Well, the first believers were Jews. They were from Israel. It’s as if the woman, Israel, gave birth to a daughter.

If the woman, Israel, had a daughter all the times of her purification were doubled. Why were the times doubled? The number two in the Bible represents union. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The two became one.

Paul quotes this passage in Genesis when he says in Ephesians 5:29-32, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Jesus, the bridegroom, was joined to the church, his bride, and the two became one.

So, the seven days that Israel was unclean for shedding the blood of Jesus became 14 days for shedding the blood of the church, which was Jesus’ body. When did this happen? In Acts 7:54-60, we are told of the stoning of Stephen. For the first, but not the only, time, Israel shed the blood of a member of the church. But, not just a member of the church. This was a member of Christ’s body.

When Saul was converted on the road to Damascus in Acts 9, Jesus said to him, “Why are you persecuting me?” Saul asked, “Who are you, Lord?” Jesus responded, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Saul and Israel weren’t just shedding the blood of the church, they were shedding the blood of Jesus and the church, the two that had become one. Therefore, the time of uncleanness, which was likened to the time of menstruation, again for the shedding of blood, was doubled from 7 days to 14 days.

Of course, daughters were not circumcised in the Bible. Plus, unlike Jesus, we have not been circumcised of our flesh yet. We have been baptized into Christ and have had a circumcision of the heart. But, we have not had our flesh circumcised and received our new bodies like Jesus did. Therefore, there is no doubling of the eighth day.

But, the woman, Israel, does need to continue 66 days in the purifying of her blood for the daughter that she bore. The number 66 is twice the number of the time of Christ’s finished work, 33, because the two have been made flesh. In Luke 21:24, Jesus says, “They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” The finished work of the Gentiles, their time, was double because they had been joined as one with Jesus. Remember, Jesus’ bride is generally pictured as a Gentile woman throughout scripture.

So, the total time for the woman’s purification because she bore a daughter was 80 days. Again, the period of testing was doubled because the church, the daughter of Israel, had been made one with Jesus.

An interesting side note to all of this, is that Leviticus 12 pictures Jesus, the son, and the church, the daughter, as having the same mother. But, there’s the sense that Jesus and the church have different fathers. With the son, the woman conceived and bore a son. But, with the daughter, the woman just bore a daughter. Therefore, Jesus and the church are step brother and step sister.

Why is this interesting? Because that was the relation of Abraham and Sarah. Genesis 20:12 says, “Besides, she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife.” Abraham and Sarah were step brother and step sister.

WHEN THE TIME OF PURIFICATION IS COMPLETED

Whether a son or daughter was born, when the time of the woman’s purification was completed she brought an offering to the priest. The priest would offer the offering to the Lord and make for atonement for the woman.

I think there’s a possibility that this pictures the time when Israel reaches the conclusion of her test and recognizes that she has crucified her Messiah. Israel brings this recognition to the priest in acknowledgement of the offering that Christ made for her. Then, Christ presents Israel’s recognition of his sacrifice for them and makes atonement for her.

Having been atoned for, the woman is now clean from her menstruation, which is to say that Israel, having recognized her crucifixion of the messiah, has an offering presented by the priest to the Lord. This makes Israel clean from shedding the blood of the savior.

Perhaps others will see Leviticus 12 differently, but this does seem to be a way that this law as fulfilled by Jesus and bearing witness to him.

Jesus: The True Bread from Heaven

Having been brought through the Red Sea, or baptized, by God, Israel was led through the wilderness by the pillar of fire and the cloud. Israel’s first stop was at Marah where the bitter water was made sweet by a tree that Moses threw in the water. This pictured the death of Christ on the tree, or the cross, that turned our bitter life sweet, giving us abundant life.

From Marah, Israel made its way to Elim. At Elim, there were 12 springs of water and 70 palm trees. The number 12 speaks of power, authority, and government in the Bible, and water is symbolic of the Holy Spirit of the life of God. So, the 12 springs represented the power and authority of God’s life or the government of the Holy Spirit. The number 70 has appeared two other times in the Bible prior to this. The first was the 70 nations that dispersed from Noah’s sons to cover the earth in Genesis 10 and 11. The second was the 70 people that were in Egypt with Jacob. So, 70 represents a complete number of nations or people. Therefore, Elim was the place where the life of God was the power and authority of God’s government over all his people.

THE WILDERNESS OF SIN

In Exodus 16, Israel left Elim and came to the wilderness of Sin. The name Sin is not the Hebrew word for sin. The name Sin is the Hebrew word shin, which means teeth, press, or sharp. So, having left the place of God’s life and government, Israel came to the wilderness where they would be pressed. Indeed, speaking of what he is about to do, God says he will do it “that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.” (Exodus 16:4)

Perhaps somewhat ironically, the picture for this Hebrew word or letter is that of the two front teeth. But, in the wilderness of Sin, God was going to provide Israel with food, manna, that it would not need teeth to it. This is appropriate since the wilderness is a place of spiritual immaturity. In 1 Corinthians 3:1-2, Paul says that is the spiritually mature person that can eat solid food. Those that are spiritually immature or carnal would choke on the solid food. So, they get manna.

THE 15TH DAY OF THE SECOND MONTH

Exodus 16:1 says that Israel came to the wilderness of Sin on the 15th day of the second month. Now, Israel was led out of Egypt after the Passover on the 15th day of the first month. Therefore, Israel arrived at the wilderness of Sin exactly one month after they left Egypt. God had brought Israel out of Egypt, or the world. But, now he needed to deliver them from their own flesh. On the journey through the wilderness, God would take Israel from a people of carnal men and women to a people of spiritual men and women ready to enter the promised land.

This is significant for two reasons. First, the number 15 often alludes to man’s deliverance from the flesh. In Genesis 7:20, we are told that the waters of the flood covered the tops of the mountains by 15 cubits. Verse 21 says that all flesh died on the earth because of the flood. God’s creation and the eight people aboard the ark were delivered from the flesh by the flood. In Hosea 3:2-3, Hosea bought his wife, who had become a prostitute and was given over to the flesh, for 15 shekels. It was at this time that Hosea told his wife that she would not play the whore anymore. And, Paul says that if we walk by the Spirit, then we will not gratify the desires, or lusts, of the flesh for the Spirit and the flesh are opposed to each other. In Galatians 5:19, Paul lists 15 works of the flesh that are evident:

  1. Sexual immorality
  2. Impurity
  3. Sensuality
  4. Idolatry
  5. Sorcery
  6. Enmity
  7. Strife
  8. Jealousy
  9. Fits of anger
  10. Rivalries
  11. Dissensions
  12. Divisions
  13. Envy
  14. Drunkenness
  15. Orgies

Paul says in Galatians 5:24 that “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

Second, the 15th of the month was a full moon. The Hebrew calendar is a lunar calendar. Therefore, it is based on the cycles of the moon. On the first day of the month, the moon is a small crescent. By the 15th, halfway through the month, the moon is full. The period from when Israel left Egypt to the time it was given the manna in the wilderness of Sin was exactly one month. The one month and the full moon represent a new thing beginning. In fact, in the Passover and manna accounts in Exodus, the Hebrew word for month means to make anew or to restore.

So, while the Passover was the beginning of God bringing his people out of the world and making anew or restoring his chosen people, the initiation of the manna was God making the individual believer anew, delivering him from a carnal life to a spiritual life.

THE PEOPLE GRUMBLED

Exodus 16:2 says that the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. In verse 3, the people said, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Despite the fact that Israel saw how God delivered them with a mighty hand from Egypt, after just one month of freedom from their bondage they wished that God would have killed them in Egypt. At least there they had meat pots and bread to the full. But, is that what Israel really had Egypt? Given that Israel cried out to God in its oppression and slavery, it is hard to imagine they had the luxuries of meat pots and bread to the full. Plus, when Israel did recall what they had to eat in Egypt, it wasn’t meat pots and bread to the full. In Numbers 11:5, Israel said, “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic.” For the fish to cost nothing, Israel must have caught it themselves every day. And, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic don’t make much of a meal. How easily Israel, and we, forgot what God did for them. In addition to delivering them from Egypt, God had just made bitter water sweet for them to drink.

BREAD FROM HEAVEN TO TEST YOU

In response to their grumbling that they would die from hunger in the wilderness, God told Moses to tell Israel, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.” (Exodus 16:4)

Just like God tested Abraham, he was testing Israel. He tested them at Marah where he made the bitter water sweet. Exodus 15:25 says, “There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them.” There was no specific statute or rule given that we are aware of. The test was simply would Israel diligently listen to the voice of God and do what is right in his eyes. Importantly, God had not given the law from Mt. Sinai through Moses yet. This statute and rule, this test, was to be a continual listening to the voice of God.

So, in Exodus 16:4, when God says that he will test Israel to see if they will walk according to his law, it is the same test – will Israel continually and diligently listen to the voice of God to do what is right in his eyes.

Interestingly, there was a third test in Exodus 17. However, the table is turned in that chapter because Israel tested God about not having any water to drink.

Israel failed these tests at Mt. Sinai when they saw the thunder and flashes of lightning and heard the trumpet. They feared and trembled and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.” (Exodus 20:19) It was because Israel did not want to listen diligently to the voice of God but the voice of Moses that God gave Israel the law written on tablets of stone. So, the people stood afar off while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.

FEEDING THE 5,000 AND A GRUMBLING CROWD

If you are familiar with the Bible, then the story leading up to the manna should remind you of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in Matthew 14:13-36, Mark 6:30-56, Luke 9:10-17, and John 6. Like Exodus 16, Matthew and Mark both tell us that this miracle took place in the desert or wilderness. But, John gives us the most extensive treatment of this miracle and links it to the manna. So, we will focus on John’s account.

After teaching this large group of people, Jesus asked Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?” John tells us that Jesus said this to test Philip, even though Jesus already knew what he was going to do. Therefore, like Exodus 16 a test was involved. But, Jesus wasn’t testing the crowd. He testing his disciples to see if they believed him. Philip said it would cost a lot of money and didn’t know where they would get that money from. Andrew said there was a boy with five loaves and two fishes, but what good was that with so many people?

So, Jesus told them to have the people sit down. Jesus gave thanks and distributed the loaves and the fish, and everyone ate as much as they wanted. Even though everyone ate to they were full, there was bread left over that filled up 12 baskets. This is somewhat like the story in Exodus 16 in that the fish were like the quail the people had one time the evening before the manna came. But the manna that came every day for 40 years was like the leftovers from the five loaves that filled the 12 baskets. There was always enough manna for everyone to eat, which Jesus demonstrated by having the disciples collect more bread than they gave out. This certainly seemed to be the case since the leftovers from the five loaves filled 12 baskets.

Seeing the sign, the people exclaimed, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” They knew that Moses had prophesied about a prophet to come after him. Having been miraculously fed with bread by Jesus, the crowd believed that he was that prophet.

But, the next day Jesus and the crowd got into a discussion about the miraculous feeding from the day before. Jesus said they were seeking him only because he had filled their stomachs. Instead of that kind of bread, Jesus said they should be seeking the food that endures to eternal life.

In response to seeking the food that endures to eternal life, the crowd asked what they must do to be doing the works of God. Jesus said to believe in him. In order that they might believe in him, the crowd asked what kind of sign or work Jesus would perform. It sounded like the crowd was beginning to grumble like in Exodus 16.

In John 6:31, the crowd said, “Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Basically, they were saying, “Moses gave our fathers bread from heaven to eat for 40 years. Jesus, you fed us for one day. If you are a greater prophet than moses, then what are you going to do to prove it?”

Jesus responded in verses 32-33, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

The crowd asked for this bread always. Jesus then gave a long answer, saying that he was the bread of life and whoever came to him shall not hunger anymore. Jesus talked about believing in him because the Father sent him and because he came down to do the will of the one who sent him. Jesus said he wouldn’t lose any that the Father gave him because everyone who looked on the Son and believed would have eternal life. “So the Jews grumbled about him.” (John 6:41)

Jesus responded to their grumbling by saying, “Do not grumble among yourselves…It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’” Remember in Exodus, God was testing the people to see if they would listen to his voice. But, when the people heard and saw the thunder and the lightning on the mountain, they told Moses to speak to them so they wouldn’t have to hear God’s voice. But, Jesus quoted the prophets, saying, “And they all will be taught by God.” Jesus was talking about hearing God’s voice. Jesus said, “Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.” We can’t see God, but we can hear his voice. Those that have heard it will come to Jesus.

In verses 48-51, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

So, the crowd grumbled some more and left Jesus. They were afar off just like Israel at Mt. Sinai. Eventually, even the disciples began to grumble. Jesus asked the disciples if they would go away like the crowd. But, Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” The disciples heard the words of Jesus. They heard the voice of God and believed. They passed the test.

JESUS: THE TRUE BREAD FROM HEAVEN

The Jews in Jesus’ day equated the manna that their fathers ate with the bread of heaven. But, even Moses said in Deuteronomy 8:3, “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did you fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Moses knew that the manna was physical symbol of the true bread from God which was the Word of God. The manna was to show Israel that they would live by the words from God’s mouth, Jesus.

Jesus was familiar with Deuteronomy 8:3 as he quoted it when the devil tried to tempt him in the wilderness to turn stones into bread. Further, in John 6:32-33, Jesus said to the Jews, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” Jesus told the Jews that he was the true bread from heaven.

The Greek word “true” in John 6:32 is alethinos. It literally means not hidden. It is that which is not concealed, can be seen, or may be expressed as it really is. Something is true when it is unveiled or when a hidden reality becomes explicit. The manna was bread from heaven, but it was a concealment of the full reality of the true bread from heaven. The manna was bread from heaven, but it was a veiled look at the true bread from heaven. But, Jesus is the true bread from heaven. He is the full reality of what that the manna represented. Therefore, we can study the manna to get a picture of who Jesus is.

WHAT IS IT?

The word manna literally means what is it. Israel had never seen anything like it before and therefore did not know what it was. Moses told them that it was the bread that the Lord had given them to eat to the full.

When it comes to the characteristics of the manna, the various English Bible translations are all over the place. And, the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament that was common in Jesus’ day, differs as well. So, I will try to look at what seems to be the common characteristics of the manna to see how they picture Jesus.

FINE LIKE FROST

The first Hebrew word used to describe the manna means fine, thin, scarce, small, soft. It comes from a root word meaning to become fine through grinding. In the Septuagint, it is translated fine and small, but the word can also mean powdered. I think the idea here is that the manna was fine like grain or powder.

Jesus said he was the grain of wheat. When wheat is ground, it can be ground in different grades – from coarse to fine. The more the ground wheat is sifted, the finer the flour that results. Fine flour has no lumps in it. It is perfectly even. Therefore, we could say that Jesus possessed all the fruit of the spirit equally. He did not have one quality more than another. But, it is different with man. Moses was known as the meekest man on the face of the earth. Solomon was the wisest man to ever live. Abraham had faith like no other. But, Jesus did not have any one trait out of proportion to another.

ROUND LIKE CORIANDER

Coriander seeds are small and round. So, the manna was also round. Something that is round has no beginning and no end. In John 8:58, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” Jesus declared himself to be the self-existent one. He declared himself to be eternal, without beginning or end. Also, something that is round has the beginning and end in the same place. In Revelation 1:8, Jesus said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” Jesus is the beginning and the end. And, in Revelation 1:17, Jesus said, “I am the first and the last.”

WHITE

The manna was white. The color white in the Bible often symbolizes either righteousness or purity. When Jesus was on the mount of transfiguration, Matthew 17:2 says, “And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light.” Peter, John, and James saw Jesus glorified in all his righteousness.

TASTED LIKE WAFERS MADE WITH HONEY

The manna was meant to picture that man did not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeded from God’s mouth. And, we know from John 1 that Jesus was the Word of God. Therefore, to eat the manna was to eat Jesus, the Word of God. And, he was sweet to the taste, like honey.

Psalm 119:103 says, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Proverbs 16:24 says, “Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body.” And, Proverbs 24:13-14 says, “My son, eat honey, for it is good, and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste. Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.” God’s words are sweet like honey.

APPEARANCE LIKE BDELLIUM

Numbers 11:7 says that the manna had an appearance like bdellium. The only other time bdellium is mentioned is in Genesis 2:12, which says that bdellium is a precious stone. Bdellium was thought to be somewhat transparent or white. Some think of it as the sap of a tree that hardens when the has been cut. The sap hardens and becomes like a pearl, one produced by a tree instead of an animal. After the fall and before the new heavens and new earth, bdellium, or pearl, is replaced with silver. Silver speaks of redemption throughout the Bible. This gives an interesting picture of Jesus when we consider that Revelation 21:21 says that the 12 gates of the new Jerusalem were 12 pearls. The gates that were entered to receive redemption were made from the sap, or life blood, of the tree that hardened into a pearl.

FELL WITH THE DEW

There are a number of passages in the Bible that say the dew comes down from the heavens – Genesis 27:28, Deuteronomy 33:28, Proverbs 3:20, and Zechariah 8:12. In Hosea 14:5, God says, “I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall blossom like the lily.” Jesus picked up on Hosea 14:5 when he said in Matthew 6:28-29, “And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” For Israel, God was like the dew that caused Israel to grow. It was the dew that clothed the lilies which caused their growth.

Christians are born of the Spirit. Therefore, they grow by the Spirit. Jesus told us not to worry how we are clothed since God will clothe us. Jesus told us not to worry how we would grow. Also in Acts 1:8 Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” The Holy Spirit clothes us with the power of God like the dew does the lilies of the field. And, throughout the New Testament, to put on the new man, to put on Christ, is to put on the Holy Spirit, like a change of clothes. Again, this is like the dew clothing the lilies of the field, which causes them to grow.

So, the Holy Spirit is pictured as dew in the Bible. And, the manna fell with the dew. Jesus was connected to the Father and received power to do the work his Father sent him to do through the Holy Spirit. This was also why Jesus regularly got away early in the morning to pray. That’s when dew falls and when Jesus maintained his connection with his Father through the Holy Spirit.

HOW THE MANNA PICTURES OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS

We have looked at the characteristics of the manna that speak to the person of Jesus. But, the manner in which Israel was to collect and use the manna speaks to our relationship with Jesus. And, we must remember that the manna was given in the wilderness. The manna is for those that have not entered into the promised land yet.

God rained the manna down from heaven. The Bible says that God pours out his rain on the just and the unjust. Jesus, the true bread from heaven, is for all people. However, Israel had to go out and gather a day’s portion of the manna every day. Jesus can only profit a man when the man goes to Jesus. A man can only abide in Jesus if he goes out and gathers his portion of Jesus every day.

Each Israelite was to gather as much of the manna as he could eat. Similarly, we are to gather as much of Christ as we can every day. Some gathered more and some gathered less manna, but whoever gathered had no lack. The hungrier you are for Jesus the more you will gather. If you are not as hungry, then you will not need to gather as much of Jesus. In this way, every who goes out to gather from Jesus to satisfy their hunger will gather exactly what they need without lack.

The manna was on the ground like frost and was left there after the dew evaporated. To gather manna, one had to stoop down. To get what we need from Jesus we need to stoop down or humble ourselves. In 1 Corinthians 1:28, Paul says, “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things are not, to bring to nothing things that are.” God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.

The manna melted when the sun grew hot. Israel had to gather the manna early in the morning. Likewise, we need to go to Jesus first thing in the morning. This is the time to set our minds on Christ and prepare ourselves for the day ahead.

The manna was not to be kept until the next morning. If it was, then it would breed worms and stink. Jesus gives us what we need for each day. We are not to store things up or hoard things for the future. In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” The manna is daily bread. But, Jesus is the true bread from heaven that we need every day for apart from him we can do nothing. If we try to hold onto to what Jesus gives us today, then it will be worth nothing tomorrow.

The manna was only to be gathered the first six days. God was testing Israel to see if they would obey him. But, on the sixth day, each person would gather twice as much as they did every other day. Israel was not to gather the seventh day because it was a Sabbath, a day of solemn rest.

The first six days picture our time as sojourners in the earth. It’s as if we are in the wilderness. Therefore, we need to gather like the Israelites did. And, day after day, we need to eat the same thing over and over. It’s a test. Are you hungry? Will you keep coming to Jesus even if you get the same thing from every day, over and over?

While it was not the true rest, the final rest, Joshua and Israel entering the promised land is a picture of us entering the Sabbath rest, the true rest, that Christ brings. The manna ceased when Israel entered Canaan. Joshua 5:12 says, “And the manna ceased the day after they ate of the produce of the land.” Instead of eating manna as they had for 40 years, Israel now ate from the fruit of the land, which they did not work for. When we enter the rest of Christ, we have access to his spiritual riches.

Israel gathered double portion on the sixth day. So, too for us when we pass the test. Then, we enter the Sabbath, the solemn day of rest, having collected a double portion on the sixth day. Jesus taught from Isaiah 61 at the beginning of his ministry to declare that the kingdom of God was here. The time for rest was here, although it won’t be fully here until Christ returns. But, Isaiah 61:7 says, “Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion; instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot; therefore in the land they shall possess a double portion; they shall have everlasting joy.” When we at last enter that rest, we will have our double portion of Jesus.

Jesus, indeed, is the true bread from heaven.

God Provides Himself the Lamb

In addition to the written teaching below, here’s the audio to tonight’s CUMO Mid-Week Bible Study.

Genesis 22 is one of the most well-known and most important chapters in the Bible. It is the story of God telling Abraham to sacrifice his son, Abraham’s obedience to God, and God providing the lamb in the place of Isaac. I rarely look at commentaries anymore, I looked through eight to 10 to see what they said about the climactic event of Abraham’s life. While commentaries have some useful information, I wasn’t surprised to find that the commentaries rarely, if ever, mentioned Jesus (which is why I rarely read commentaries anymore). I find this astounding, considering that Genesis 22 is an astounding prophetic revelation of Jesus.

Let’s take a look, sort of verse by verse, to see Jesus.

AFTER THESE THINGS

Genesis 22:1 begins “After these things…”

After what things?

Well, everything from Genesis 12 through Genesis 21.

Genesis 12:1-3 says, “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.’”

The very first thing we read about Abram is that God calls him to be a great nation and that Abram will both be blessed and be a blessing. God could only fulfill his promise to Abram if he had a son. But, at this time Abram has no son, which is somewhat ironic since Abram’s name means exalted father.” At the time of God’s call, Abram was 75 years old.

In Canaan, “the Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’” (Genesis 12:7) The Hebrew word for offspring also means seed and derives from the root word meaning to sow. From chapter 12 through chapter 22, offspring occurs 23 times. While, I haven’t studied Hebrew, I want to throw out the idea that a number of these 23 uses of the word offspring are used with the concept “your sowed seed” being implied. I say this because in John 12:24 Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Abram’s seed needs to be planted. The seed needs to die.

Abram’s offspring:

  • will be given Canaan (Genesis 12:7)
  • will be given Canaan and counted as the dust of the earth (Genesis 13:15-16)
  • shall be numbered [not counted, but written about] as the stars in the sky (Genesis 15:13)
  • will be given the land from the river of Egypt to the Euphrates (Genesis 15:18)
  • will be given and keep an established covenant and will be given all the land of Canaan (Genesis 17:7-12)
  • will have a covenant established with Isaac and his offspring (Genesis 17:19)
  • will have his offspring named through Isaac (Genesis 21:12)

In chapter 17, God reiterates his promise to and covenant with Abram. And, God changes his name to Abraham, which means exalted father of a multitude. At this time, Abram has a son Ishmael, but Abraham does not have the son of the promise yet. However, God says that from the son, Isaac, Abraham’s offspring will be named. In chapter 17, Abraham is 99 years old. So, 24 years have passed since God first called and made his promise to Abraham.

One year later, Abraham finally has the son, Isaac, in Genesis 21. So, the son came 25 years after the initial promise from God.

It’s “after these things” that Genesis 22 takes place.

GOD TESTED ABRAHAM

Genesis 22:1 says, “After these things God tested Abraham.” This is the first use in the Bible of the Hebrew word nasa. Nasa means to venture; to put someone to the test; to give experience, train; to conduct a test. A test is a critical examination, observation, or evaluation. As the first test in the Bible, Abraham’s test sets the precedent for all future testing.

So, what is God testing Abraham on?

To understand God’s testing of Abraham, we need to see that Jesus was tested. Hebrews 5:8-9 says, “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him.” What does it mean that Jesus learned obedience? If Jesus always obeyed, then what does it mean that he learned obedience? Jesus didn’t learn to obey, but he did learn the cost of obeying. He learned this by being tested. The Greek word for “learned” denotes the action of deciphering the meaning of information both practically and conceptually. Jesus learned what it meant to obey.

What did Jesus’ testing lead to? Philippians 2:8 says, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Jesus’ testing led his death, burial, and resurrection. This is the gospel.

Is this what Abraham is being tested on?

In Romans 4:3, Paul quotes Genesis 15:6 when he says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.”

So, what did Abraham believe?

Galatians 3:5-8 says, “Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or hearing by faith – just as Abraham ‘believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness’? Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’”

Abraham had the gospel preached to him and he believed it. Read The Scripture Preached the Gospel to Abraham? to see how that happened.

Therefore, in Genesis 22, God was testing Abraham’s belief.

Abraham’s test was about God providing his own son as the lamb slain before the foundation of the world to die for his sins and that God’s son would be resurrected to give life. If Abraham passed the test, then this gospel would be how all the families of the earth would be blessed.

It’s important to understand how old Abraham was at the time of testing. Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old. We know that Isaac was weaned in chapter 21. That’s at least three more years before Abraham was tested. We also know that in chapter 23 Sarah died at the age of 127 when Isaac was 37 years old. And, we know that Isaac s a type of Jesus. Given that Sarah gave birth to Isaac, I think that makes Sarah a type of Israel in this story. In effect, Israel, as God’s wife, gave birth to Jesus. When did Israel (Sarah) die, or come to an end? Shortly after Jesus’ death when he was about 33 years old. So, I think Genesis 22 takes place when Isaac is about the same age as Jesus when he died. I believe that the point is that Isaac was not a small boy in Genesis. This would make Abraham about 130 years old. Their ages will be important later.

YOUR SON, YOUR ONLY SON ISAAC

In Genesis 22:3, God tells Abraham “Take your son, your only son Isaac.” Abram had a son, Ishmael. But, Abraham had the son, Isaac. Plus, Ishmael had been sent away. Isaac was Abraham’s only son. Similarly, in the Old Testament, the angels are called the sons of God. But, God has only one Son.

  • “glory as of the only Son into the world.” – John 1:14
  • “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” – John 3:16
  • “that God sent his only Son into the world” – 1 John 4:9

WHOM YOU LOVE

God tells Abraham to take his only son, “whom you love.” God loves his son, Jesus.

  • “The Father loves the Son.” – John 3:35
  • “as the Father has loved me” – John 15:9
  • “So that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” – John 17:23
  • “to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” – John 17:24
  • “I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them” – John 17:26

AND GO TO THE LAND OF MORIAH

Abraham is to take the son whom he loves “and go to the land of Moriah.” The only other mention of Moriah is in 2 Chronicles 3:1, which says, “Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to David his father, at the place David had appointed, on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite.” The threshing floor is a symbol of judgment. It is the place where the husk was separated from the grain by beating and the place where the grain is crushed. Isaiah 53:5 says, “he [Jesus] was crushed for our iniquities.”

The root word of Moriah means to see, to understand, to spy, to reveal, look at, examine, or inspect. We could think of Moriah as the place where Christ was examined and inspected for his worthiness.

Another meaning of Moriah is “bitterness of the Lord.” At the time of the call in Genesis 22:3, Abraham and Isaac were in Beersheba. Beersheba means the well of underground water. But, Abraham and Isaac were journeying to the bitterness of the Lord, which speaks to the separation of the Father and the Son.

SO ABRAHAM ROSE EARLY IN THE MORNING

Having been told by God what to do, Abraham set to action right away. He took Isaac and headed out to Moriah early in the morning. When did Jesus’ testing begin? Early in the morning. In Luke 22, after the last supper and early in the morning, Jesus was praying with his disciples in the garden. We know it was early in the morning because the disciples kept falling asleep. In Luke 22:66, Jesus was arrested early in the morning, and when day came, the elders, chief priests, and scribes gathered together to hold a trial.

SADDLED HIS DONKEY…AND HE CUT THE WOOD FOR BURNT OFFERING

When the journey started, Abraham cut the wood for sacrifice and put it on the donkey for the three day journey. This is a picture of Jesus, who had someone carry the cross for him at one point.

  • “And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus.” – Luke 23:26
  • “As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross.” – Matthew 27:32
  • “And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.” – Mark 15:21

Consider that neither the donkey nor Simon had any choice in the matter. The donkey was saddled, and Simon was seized or compelled. Also, notice that Simon carried the cross behind Jesus, which is where a donkey would walk.

AND TOOK TWO OF HIS YOUNG MEN WITH HIM

Having saddled the donkey with the wood for the sacrifice, Abraham and Isaac set out for Moriah with two of Abraham’s you men. What is this a picture of?

  • “Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.” – Luke 23:32
  • “Then two robbers were crucified with him.” – Matthew 27:38
  • “And with him the crucified two robbers.” – Mark 15:27

ON THE THIRD DAY ABRAHAM LIFTED UP HIS EYES AND SAW THE PLACE AFAR OFF

The journey from Beersheba to Moriah was three days. So, three days after setting out, Abraham sees the place that he was to sacrifice Isaac afar off. Last week, I mentioned that the third day is an important day in the Bible as an unusually high number of events take place on the third day. This is because on the third day Jesus is resurrected. But, how do we reconcile that Abraham saw the place of Isaac’s sacrifice on the third day, which represents resurrection, but Isaac has not been sacrificed yet? The day they set out on the journey and Abraham obeyed God was the day that Isaac was sacrificed in Abraham’s mind. Isaac died on the first day of the journey. This was the day Abraham and Isaac set out from Beersheba, which is the well of underground water. This is the well spring of life. When Abraham and Isaac left this place it spoke of their broken fellowship and the broken fellowship between the Father and the Son.

The third day speaks of resurrection. And, on the third day, Abraham sees the place afar off. Abraham sees the place that Isaac would be resurrected. Hebrews 11:17-19 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, ‘Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.’ He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did received him back.”

But, Abraham saw much more than how far away in distance Isaac’s resurrection on the third day. The Bible says he “saw the place afar off.” I think this is not speaking of distance but of time. Listen to what Jesus says in John 8:37, 39-40, 56, 58, “I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you…If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who was told the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad…Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

THEN ABRAHAM SAID TO HIS YOUNG MEN, “STAY HERE WITH THE DONKEY”

Having seen the place of Isaac’s resurrection, Abraham tells his two young men to stay behind. He and Isaac would go off alone. Even though the thieves were always present on either side of Jesus during his crucifixion, I believe there was a moment when the Father and Jesus were “alone.” Matthew 27:46 says, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” I think the Father and Jesus were “alone” at this time because no one understood what Jesus was saying. They thought he was calling out to Elijah.

I AND THE BOY WILL OVER THERE TO WORSHIP AND COME TO YOU AGAIN

Abraham and Isaac went off by themselves to worship. We see this with the Father and Jesus too. In Luke 23:46, Jesus says, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” Jesus is quoting Psalm 31:5, and it is even the title of the psalm. John 19:30, says, “He [Jesus] said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” Jesus’ spirit went back to the Father. They were worshiping together.

But, this was also the moment that Abraham clearly expressed his belief in the gospel – the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. This was the moment that Abraham showed that he clearly knew Isaac would be resurrected since he said they would both come back to the servants. Perhaps Abraham even knew that he was acting out an exact prophecy of Jesus’ death.

AND ABRAHAM TOOK THE WOOD OF THE BURNT OFFERING AND LAID IT ON ISAAC HIS SON

At this time, Abraham is likely 130 years old and Isaac is probably in his early 30s. Abraham was not sacrificing a small boy that he could force the wood upon. Abraham was sacrificing a grown man. And, given the age difference, a man that he could not force to do anything. Therefore, Isaac willingly let Abraham put the wood on him. He did not fight or resist. This is a perfect picture of the Father and Jesus. The Father did not force Jesus to the cross. Rather, Jesus willingly went to it. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Looking unto Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

GOD WILL PROVIDE FOR HIMSELF THE LAMB

The Hebrew word “for” has a range of meanings, including of, by, that, and from. Try reading verse 8 with each of those words substituted for the quite common translation “for.” I think when we understand this entire chapter with Abraham and Isaac as a picture of the Father and Jesus going to the cross we see that what Abraham is saying is that the lamb that God will provide is himself. So, I think the ISV translation gets it right, “God will provide himself the lamb for the burnt offering.” Jesus, as God, is not just any lamb, but the lamb for the burnt offering.

ABRAHAM…BOUND ISAAC HIS SON AND LAID HIM ON THE ALTAR, ON TOP OF THE WOOD

Abraham assured Isaac that God would provide himself the lamb. Did Abraham just preach the gospel to Isaac, if he hadn’t already? Because the lamb that God would provide is nowhere to be found yet.

So, Abraham and Isaac reach the place God showed Abraham. Abraham built an altar and laid the wood on top of Isaac. Isaac was bound, but he willingly let it happen, just like Jesus let himself be bound.

  • “The chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council. And they bound Jesus and delivered him to Pilate.” – Mark 15:1
  • “And they bound him.” – Matthew 27:2
  • “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above.” – John 19:11

The priest, scribes, elders, and Pilate had no authority to bind Jesus. The authority came from the Father, and Jesus willingly let it happen.

THE ANGEL OF THE LORD CALLED TO HIM FROM HEAVEN

Throughout the entire chapter, it was God telling Abraham what to do. But, now the angel of the Lord, Jesus, calls out from heaven. Notice how the angel of the Lord seems to be equated with God.

The angel of the Lord says, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” We would have expected God the Father to say this to Abraham. But, instead it’s the angel of the Lord, Jesus, that says because Abraham has not withheld his only son Abraham has passed the test. The angel of the Lord knows that Abraham believes the gospel and, indeed, believes in him. This is important because it’s when we believe in Jesus that he gives us life.

  • “whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” – John 3:16
  • “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” – John 3:36
  • “Truly, truly I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.” – John 5:24
  • “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life.” – John 6:40
  • “whoever has the son has life” – 1 John 5:12

BEHOLD, BEHIND HIM WAS A RAM, CAUGHT IN THE THICKET BY HIS HORNS

Now that the angel of the Lord knows that Abraham believes, Abraham looks behind him and sees a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. God provided not just a lamb, but a ram. Is that because Jesus was fully grown, a man, and not a small boy? I think so.

The ram was caught by his horns. Horns are a symbol of power throughout the Bible. Horns are on the head of the animal. Colossians 1:18 says, “And he [Jesus] is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” And, 1 Corinthians 1:24 says that Jesus is the power of God. John 19:2 says, “And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head.” The ram was caught by his horns in a thicket, or thorn bush. And, Jesus, the power of God, had a crown thorns put on his head.

Thorns were produced by the earth due to Adam’s sin. And, Christ bore the crown of thorns, our sins, on the cross. It says in 1 Peter 2:24, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.”

It was while Jesus had the crown of thorns on his head on the cross that the full power of God was revealed. According to 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

Why did the ram have to be caught by its horns? If the ram had been caught anywhere else, then its flesh would have been torn. But, 1 Peter 1:19 says that we were redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

“THE LORD WILL PROVIDE” AND “ON THE MOUNT OF THE LORD IT SHALL BE PROVIDED”

Now that the ram has been provided, Abraham calls the name of the place of the resurrection (remember we are three days from Beersheba) “the Lord will provide.” And, according to Moses, the place is still called “on the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.”

However, “provide” and “provided” are not the correct translations. According to the multiple Hebrew dictionaries I looked at, that is not what the Hebrew word jireh means. Therefore, I believe we have been mistranslating Jehovah Jireh. Jireh means to see; to understand, to spy, to reveal, to look at, to examine, to inspect, to show. Therefore, verse 14 should say, “So Abraham called the name of that place ‘The Lord will be seen’, as it is to this day, ‘On the mount the Lord shall be seen.’” There are actually a couple of Bible translations that translate the verse this way. This is more appropriate because Abraham is acting out prophecy and has already seen the place afar off in time. He’s looking ahead and seeing the Lord Jesus in his resurrection. Remember what Jesus says in John 8:56, “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.”

BY MYSELF I HAVE SWORN, DECLARES THE LORD

After Abraham declares the Lord will be seen in his resurrection in this place, the angel of the Lord calls from heaven a second time. Just like God, the angel of the Lord, who calls himself Lord, has the power to swear and take action. In John 5:21, Jesus says, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.”

What does the angel of the Lord declare? He reiterates the original promise to Abraham. “Because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed because you have obeyed my voice.”

In this statement by the angel of the Lord, every use of the word offspring is singular. Remember, that in Galatians 3:16 Paul points out that this means it is referring to Jesus. So, the angel of the Lord, says that he will multiply Abraham’s single offspring, or seed, who is Jesus. There are several verses in the New Testament that fulfill this entire statement from the angel of the Lord.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24

  • “Therefore from one man, and in him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.” – Hebrews 11:12
  • “So that in Christ the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles.” – Galatians 3:14
  • “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!’” – Revelation 7:9-10

ABRAHAM LIVED AT BEERSHEBA

After the angel of the Lord reconfirmed the promise to Abraham, Abraham and his young men went together to Beersheba. They go back to the well of underground water, which is the place of living water, or eternal life. But, it’s interesting that Isaac is not mentioned as going back to Beersheba. Is this because he has ascended to the Father?

So, Genesis 22 is an amazingly detailed prophetic passage of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. While the information provided in commentaries may be helpful, it doesn’t make my heart burn within me. But, when I see Jesus in almost every word, then I feel like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus after Jesus translated where he was in all the scriptures.

Creation: A Witness to Jesus

In addition to the written teaching below, here’s the audio to tonight’s CUMO Mid-Week Bible Study.

Creation-A Witness to Jesus

To go along with this week’s study, I prepared a chart to make it easier to follow along with the teaching. You may want to print it out for easier viewing as you read or listen to the teaching.

WHAT IS THE POINT OF GENESIS 1?

Genesis 1. The account of creation.

Why is it in the Bible?

What was the point of Moses writing, “In the beginning, God created…”? Why did Moses write about creation the way he did?

Was it written so that we would all be creationists, taking the account literally and matching it up with science, proving that God did in fact create everything? If so, then how many creationists believe in and espouse a flat earth supported by pillars with a dome on top of it? For, that is what the account of creation (as seen elsewhere besides Genesis 1) and the science of the Bible say.

Was it written to tell us, to help us know and understand, the scientific processes by which God created the universe? “See, first God created light, which is energy. He did this because you need energy before anything else. Then…”

Was it written to tell us the age of the universe and, therefore, the earth? Was it written so that we would have ammunition to defend a belief in a young earth because God created in seven literal days or an old earth because we found a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 that would for billions of years to have taken place?

Job 38:1-4 says, “Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said: Who is it that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me. Where were you…”

And, for two chapters, God mocks the debate between Job and his friends with question after question regarding Job’s knowledge about how God created the heavens and the earth and how he maintains different aspects of his creation.

Therefore, to understand the story of creation in Genesis 1, we need to remember what the Bible is and is not. First, the Bible is not a science book. Treating it, and in particular Genesis 1, as if it is about science creates an argument that is a distraction to the real purpose of the account of creation and the Bible. Instead of being a book of geology, biology, ecology, exogeology, etc., the Bible is a book of theology. It is a book by which we study God. Therefore, the Bible is a revelation of who God is. And, in Jesus’ own words, it is a book that bears witness of him (John 5:39-40).

So, the point of Genesis 1, the reason it was written, is that we would know God and have a witness to Jesus.

GOD CREATED

The first thing the Bible tells us about God is that he is a creator. This tells us something very special about God as he is the only one that ever creates in the Bible (a study of the Hebrew and Greek words for “create” will show this, but that is another teaching).

So, what did God create?

Let’s look at just the first three days of creation in Genesis 1. You will understand why I want to focus on the first three days below.

On day one, God said, “Let there be light.” God separated light from darkness.

On day two, God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters.” God created an expanse, or a firmament, that separated the waters above from the waters below.

On day three, God said, “Let the waters under the havens be gathered together into one place and let the dry land appear.” God separated the seas and the dry land appeared.

So, on the first three days, God brought forth light, a firmament, and dry land. All were brought forth through a process of separation. God creates by separating.

GOD’S INVISIBLE ATTRIBUTES

Romans 1:19-20 says, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”

So, God has invisible attributes. Paul says these attributes are God’s eternal power and divine nature. Further, these invisible attributes have been known since the creation of the world. “The creation of the world.” That’s Genesis 1. So, somewhere in the six days of creation (I would argue the first three) we should be able to know, or clearly perceive, God’s invisible attributes.

Do you clearly perceive them? I didn’t think so.

To do so, we need to get more specific about exactly what are God’s invisible attributes. I propose there are three.

  1. God is light. According to 1 John 1:5, “This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
  2. God is love. According to 1 John 4:8, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
  3. God is life. According to 1 John 5:20, “He is the true God and eternal life.”

As you read, remember the order that 1 John lists God’s invisible attributes – light, love, life.

Now that you know God’s invisible attributes, do you clearly perceive them in Genesis 1? I will give you light, but I doubt you see the other two.

JOHN: THE NEW GENESIS

To see God’s invisible attributes in creation, we need to understand that the gospel of John is the new Genesis. How so?

Genesis 1 starts “in the beginning” which is followed by a series of days. Just like Genesis 1, John 1 starts “in the beginning”. But, did you know that “in the beginning” in the the gospel of John is also followed by a series of days? Maybe you haven’t noticed because the days are spread out over several chapters instead of clustered together like Genesis 1. This is John’s clue that he is writing a new Genesis about a new creation.

Further, when we understand that John is writing the new Genesis and we read the Bible in the language of Son, with the understanding that the entire Bible is a witness to Jesus, then we understand why Genesis 1 was written. It’s real purpose is to bear witness to Jesus.

So, let’s compare the account of creation in Genesis with the account in the gospel of John.

Day 1

In Genesis, on day one God calls forth light and separates it from darkness.

On day one, John 1:4-5, 7-9 says, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not over come it…He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not that light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”

On the first day of John’s gospel there was light. And, when the light shined in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it, light and darkness were separated. John tells us that this light is Jesus, equating Jesus with the light called forth on the first day of creation.

Therefore, the first day established light as one of God’s invisible attributes that could be known through creation.

Day 2

In Genesis, on day two, God made the firmament and separated the waters above from the waters below.

John 1:29-34 details the second day in John’s gospel. Verses 29 and 31-33 say, “The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!…I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John bore witness: ‘I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, “He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.”‘”

So, Jesus, the Lamb of God, gets baptized on day two of John’s gospel. Jesus’ body went down into the water and separated the water. Jesus’ baptism, in which the body of the Lamb of God separated the waters, links day two of John’s gospel with the waters being separated on day two of Genesis.

Throughout the Bible, waters being separated represents baptism.

Exodus 14:22 says, “And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right and on their left.”

Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 that this was Israel’s baptism. “For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.”

Therefore, when we read that the waters were separated on day two in Genesis we should immediately think of baptism. But, what separated the waters in Genesis? The firmament, which is key to linking Jesus’ baptism on the second day in John’s gospel with the “baptism” that took place on the second day in Genesis 1.

To see the connection, recall that baptism is symbolic of death. On the second day of John’s gospel, John the Baptist declares Jesus to be the lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world. Jesus, the lamb of God, that was baptized and symbolically died on day of two of John’s gospel, fulfilled this symbolism when he died on the cross.

On the cross, Jesus cried out with a loud voice, breathed his last, and yielded up his spirit. Right then, according to Matthew 27:51, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.” Now we have a connection between Jesus’ baptism, his death on the cross as the lamb of God, and the veil being torn in the temple.

What was the veil? The veil was what separated (there’s that creative word again) the holy place from the most holy place, the place of God’s presence. The priests were allowed into the holy place, but only the high priest, and that once a year with an offering of blood, was allowed beyond the veil into God’s presence. Hebrews tells us that Jesus Christ is the high priest that took an offering of his own blood beyond the veil into the presence of God. Here is another connection between Jesus’ body and the veil.

What does this have to do with the waters being separated by the firmament in Genesis?

Psalm 78:69 says, “He built his sanctuary like the high heavens, like the earth, which he has founded forever.” The psalmist is saying that God built his earthly tabernacle, the one Moses built, which was patterned exactly after the heavenly one, think Jesus, just like he built creation. In the tabernacle, there was a veil that separated the holy place from the most holy place, the place of God’s presence. This veil is just like firmament in that separated the earth from the heavens, the place of God’s presence. So, now we have a connection between the veil and the firmament to go with our connection between Christ’s body and the veil.

But, to drive the point home even further, Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above [the same word as firmament or expanse in Genesis 1] proclaims his handiwork.” The firmament proclaims God’s handiwork. What is God’s handiwork? Hebrews 10:5 says, “Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings you not desire, but a body have you prepared for me.'” The firmament proclaims the work of God’s hand, which is Jesus, the lamb of God to be offered up for the sins of the world. Like Jesus’ death tore the veil giving us access to the most holy place, so to did Jesus’ death tear the firmament, reconnecting the heavens and the earth.

So, the second day in Genesis is linked with the second day of John’s gospel through baptism and the crucifixion of the Lamb of the God.

(As an aside, have you ever noticed that God did not call anything that happened on day two good in Genesis? I believe that is because this day spoke prophetically of the death of God’s son.)

So, how does this reveal one of God’s invisible attributes on the second day of creation?

1 John 3:16 says, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us.” And, 1 John 4:9-10, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

The death of Jesus, the event of day two of John’s gospel and Genesis, is how we know love.

Therefore, the second day established love as one of God’s invisible attribute that could be known through creation.

Day 3

In Genesis, on day three, God gathered the waters below and the dry land appeared.

Finding the equivalent of day three in John’s gospel gets a little tricky.

John 1:35 says, “Again, the next day…”

John 1:43 says, “The following day…”

John 2:1 says, “On the third day…”

We need to know two things about John. First, he uses a lot of symbolism in his writings. Second, John is not writing an historical account of Jesus like we would today. In John 20:31, he tells us exactly why he wrote the gospel, “But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” John is writing more a theological treatise than an historical account.

Given those two points, it is important to note that John 2:1 is the only place that any of the days in John’s gospel is numbered. This is important because when you read through the Bible you will notice that an incredibly large number of events happen on the third day.

Given the great theological significance of the third day, it is not by chance that John marked out this day in John 2 with a number. By specifically identifying this as the third day, John is telling you to pay very careful attention to what happens on it.

John 2:1 says, “On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee.” This is familiar story. Jesus, his mother, and his disciples attended a wedding where they ran out of wine. One thing led to another, and Jesus tells the servants to fill six water pots with water, which he turned into wine. John 2:9-10 says, “When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine…the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and when have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept good wine until now.'”

Jesus turned water, which is ordinary but necessary for life, into wine, which is much sweeter and richer than wine, or better life. Wine, because it is sweeter and richer than water, is often a symbol of spiritual revival. While we are alive right now, Jesus gives us eternal life through the resurrection. Day three of John’s gospel is speaking to the resurrection of Jesus and the new life he gives. This is why John 2:11 says, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory [eternal life]. And his disciples believed in him.” This first miracle, turning water into wine, was such a big deal to the disciples precisely because it spoke to Jesus’ resurrection and the eternal life he would give.

We see more support for the connection between the third day of John’s gospel and Genesis in Psalm 104. This psalm is a retelling of the days of creation.

  • Day 1 – verses 1-2
  • Day 2 – verses 3-4
  • Day 3 – verses 5-18
  • Day 4 – verses 19-23
  • Day 5 – verses 24-26
  • Day 6 – verses 27-30
  • Day 7 – verses 31-35

What happens on day three in this psalm? Verses 14-15 say, “You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine and bread to strengthen man’s heart.” The psalmist writes that on day three of creation there was “wine to gladden the heart of man.” That’s exactly what Jesus did on day three of John’s gospel.

Further, in Isaiah 25, the Lord prepares a feast for those that have come out of the city of confusion. Isaiah 25:6 says, “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.”

Aged wine is better tasting wine. This is what the master of the feast said about the wine Jesus served. And, this is the wine that the Lord serves to those that come out of the city of confusion, to those enter new life.

I should note also that in Genesis it said the waters were gathered and the dry land appeared. In a sense, the dry land came up out of the water, speaking to new life or resurrected life after death or baptism. But, it very specifically says that the dry land appeared. Jesus appeared on the third day to his disciples on the third day after his death.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” People have long struggled with what Paul meant as there is no one scripture that says Jesus would rise on the third day. But, could Paul be referring to Genesis 1?

Therefore, the third day established life as God’s attribute that could be known through creation.

Now we see how creation has made known the invisible attributes of God. And, when we put them all together:

When the light of God shines on the love of God it produces the life of God.

Also, we can read what Paul wrote in Colossians 1:15-20 in even greater wonder.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn form the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of the cross.”

As we have seen from all of the above, Jesus is the image of the invisible God and the firstborn of all creation.

JESUS IS LIGHT, LOVE, AND LIFE

In John 14:6, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

Light and truth are closely related throughout scripture. As examples, see Psalm 43:3, John 3:21, 1 John 1:6.

Love is taking an action on behalf of another at the expense of oneself. Love is giving of oneself. God and Jesus are gratuitously self-giving. They do exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever ask or imagine. Love is the way Jesus has lived from before the foundation of the world.

Jesus is eternal life.

Do you see what Jesus is saying in John 14:6?

I am the way, the truth, and the life is the same as saying I am love, light, and life.

When the truth of Christ shines on the love of Christ we get the life of Christ.

Jesus makes another similar statement in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life.”

What is the resurrection? It is Christ raised life after defeating death by forgiving us for our murdering him. The resurrection is light shining on love, the truth shining on the way, which leads to life.

WHAT CREATION SAYS ABOUT YOU AND ME

In the first sermon preached, Peter told the Jews that they crucified Jesus, the one who is the Messiah, the one who was sent from God to be their king. But, death couldn’t hold him and he was raised to life. The people that heard Peter’s preaching were cut to the heart and asked what they should do.

In Acts 2:38-39, Peter answered, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

What is repenting?

A change of mind. Understanding. Light.

What is being baptized?

Paul tells us fully in Romans 6:3-11, but the short answer is baptism is being baptized into Christ’s death, which is how we know God’s love.

What is forgiveness and receiving the Holy Spirit?

The life of God. The life of Jesus. God’s forgiveness knows no end. That Jesus forgave us for killing him is how he defeated death and was resurrected to life.

So, repenting, being baptized, and receiving the Holy Spirit are the same as light, love, and life.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:45-49, “Thus it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But, it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”

Another way to think of ourselves and creation is being transformed and conformed.

Paul writes of the veil being removed and the light of the gospel shining out of the darkness into our hearts. In 2 Corinthians 4:3-6, he writes, “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

Then, in Romans 12:2, Paul writes, “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind.” The Greek word for transformed is where we get our word for metamorphosis. That is to go from state of being to a completely different state of being.

To be transformed is to repent and be baptized!

What are being transformed into?

Paul says in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18, “But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

One turns to the Lord and the veil is removed – repentance, light. Being transformed – baptized. Into the same image. Being conformed to the same image as Jesus, the son of God, life.

In Romans 8:29, Paul writes that we are predestined to be conformed to image of God’s son so that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. We are to have the same attributes as Jesus – light, love, and life.

2 Corinthians 5:16-20 sums all that I have written above:

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them [forgiveness], and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

God’s creation made known his invisible attributes – light, love, and life. That creation bears witness that Jesus is the image of these attributes. He is the way, the truth, and the life or the resurrection and the life. If we repent, are baptized and receive the Holy Spirit, then we are in Christ and therefore a new creation of light, love, and life. As new creations, we have been given the same ministry of reconciliation as Christ. Therefore, we are his ambassadors.

The Principles of Giving – Part 2

Today is part two of the principles of giving (part 1 is here) that was part of a teaching called God, You, Money that I did several years ago.

Recall the four principles:

  1. Readily
  2. Richly
  3. Revelation
  4. Response

Part two continues with seeing the four principles in both the Old and New Testaments. Then, having seen the four principles all throughout the Bible, we see all four principles in God’s offering of Jesus for us. In fact, all four principles are found in just one verse – John 3:16.

(Side note: I did not mention tithing one time regarding the principles of giving in the Bible.)

The Principles of Giving – Part 1

Several years ago I taught a series called GYM – God, You, Money. Today and tomorrow I am going to post the audio to the first two parts of that series.

Today, in the first part, we look at the first offering in the Bible, which is found in Genesis 4:2-7. In this offering, we find four principles of giving:

  1. Readily
  2. Richly
  3. Revelation
  4. Response

The first two principles relate to the giver, and the second two principles relate to the receiver.

In addition to those four principles, we find that there is a corollary to them:

Obedience is greater than sacrifice.

At the end of the first part, we begin to look at how the four principles and the corollary are applied throughout the Bible

Look for part two tomorrow.

Bible Study: Why? How? What? (Audio)

If, instead of reading this morning’s blog post, you would rather listen to last night’s teaching, then the audio is attached.

Bible Study: Why? How? What?

Bible Study: Why? How? What?

A couple of weeks ago, LaMarque, my good friend and pastor at Cincinnati Urban Ministry Outreach (CUMO), said he wanted to restart the church’s mid-week Bible Study and asked if I would lead it in 2017. At first, I hesitated. That seemed like a lot of work, having to come up with a new teaching every week. Then it dawned on me. I told LaMarque I would do it on one condition. The Bible study would really be a discipleship class.

By discipleship, I mean that I was not so much going to teach a lesson every week, but I would walk with the class through the Bible the way I have every day for the last six or seven years – reading through the Bible on a set schedule over a period of time. Doing this has been a tremendous blessing from the Lord for me. You can read about two real examples in this post and this post.

So, last night I facilitated the first class to prepare us for the journey ahead. The title of last night’s class was Bible Study: Why? How? What?

[At the end of this post, you will find a one page summary of last night’s teaching (it doesn’t include everything below because it’s a summary) and the Bible reading schedule for 2017.]

What is the word of God?

If I held up the Bible and asked you what it is, how many of you would at some point answer that it is the word of God? I think most of you would. But, is it? Are you sure?

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” – John 1:1-2

Notice the personal pronoun. The Word of God is a person. So, the question is not “what is the word of God? but “who is the word of God?”

But, John 1 is not the only time the Bible talks about the Word of God in odd ways like this. Look at how the word is talked about in the following three scriptures from Acts:

  • “And the word of God continued to increase.” – Acts 6:7
  • “But the word of God increased and multiplied.” – Acts 12:24
  • “So the word of the Lord continued to increase.” – Acts 19:20

Can the Bible increase and multiply? What would that even mean? You can find plenty more unusual references to the word of God in Acts and the rest of the New Testament.

But, unusual references to the word are found not just in the New Testament. You can find them in the Old Testament too.

In 1 Samuel 3, Samuel was left with Eli, the high priest, to serve in the ministry as he was dedicated to the Lord by his mother. Because Eli’s sons had been misusing the offerings and Eli knew about it, God wanted to get a message of judgment to Eli through Samuel.

Verse 1 says, “And the word of the Lord was rare in those days.” Is this referring to the Bible? Does rare mean that it was hard to find a copy of what was written? Anyway, the Old Testament was, perhaps at best, only half written at that time.

So, the Lord begins to call out Samuel’s name, but Samuel kept running to Eli. Eli said I’m not calling you. Verse 7 says, “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.” Why would the writer say that the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to Samuel in response to Samuel not knowing the voice that was calling him? A voice comes from a person not a book. Was Samuel hearing a voice from some writings of the Old Testament?

By the end of the chapter, Samuel has heard from the Lord and delivered the message to Eli. The chapter closes in verse 21, “And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.”

Now Samuel knows the Lord. Samuel knew him by the word of the Lord. Throughout 1 Samuel 3, the word of the Lord does not seem to be a book. Instead it seems to be a person like it says in John 1. Speaking of John 1…

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14

The Word is a Son, in addition to being a person.

“In him was life.” – John 1:4

In this person, this son, is life. The Word of God is life, a person, a son.

By now, I think you know what I’m driving at. The Word of God is Jesus, not the Bible. In fact, the Bible repeatedly refers to itself as the scriptures, the law, or the law and the prophets not the word of God. I believe this is important because to put anything before God, before Jesus, is to make that thing an idol. To treat the Bible or the scriptures as the word of God is to make the book an idol. We are using it incorrectly, trying to make the Bible do what only Jesus can. I have worked hard to no longer call the Bible the word of God since the Word of God is Jesus’ name (see Revelation 19:13). It’s not easy at first.

If it is not the word of god, then why do we study the bible?

It is really important to know why you are doing anything. It is especially important when it is something related to God. So, why do we study the Bible? There are two primary reasons.

  1. The Bible bears witness to Jesus, from whom we receive life.
  2. The Bible puts us back on track when our life with Jesus has gone off course.

First, the Bible bears witness to Jesus, from whom we receive eternal life.

In John 5, Jesus healed the man at the pool of Bethsaida. Because of this act of healing on the Sabbath, the Jews persecuted Jesus and wanted to kill him. Jesus says this healing was his Father working and he is working too. Jesus equated himself with God, and the Jews wanted to kill him all the more.

Right then Jesus starts a long discourse in which he says that the Father raises the dead and gives life and that the Father has given this ability to the Son too. Towards the end of his soliloquy, Jesus says,

“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” – John 5:39-40

The Jews were going to the Bible, the scriptures, for eternal life. But, the Scriptures bear to witness to the person, the Son, the Word of God, that has eternal life. Jesus said you are going to a book for life, but I am standing right here in front of you, waiting to give you life, and you won’t even come to me. We can fall into the same trap today if we make the Bible the word of God, the source of eternal life.

We study the Bible because it points us to Jesus, who gives us life.

Second, the Bible puts us back on track when our life with Jesus has gone off course.

“All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17

All scripture is for:

  1. Teaching
  2. Reproof
  3. Correction
  4. Training

Are any of those things life? No, because the Bible does not give you life. Life comes from Jesus.

However, once we have received life from Jesus, each of those four things are to keep us in his life and to equip us to do works, bear fruit, from his life. As someone in the class said last night, the Bible is a training manual. Yes! And, this training manual was breathed out by God, inspired by the Holy Spirit, whom we are to be filled with so that we bear fruit.

If jesus is the word of god but we study the bible, then how should we study the bible?

I believe there are three key concepts for how we should study the Bible.

  1. Read the Bible in the language of Son.
  2. Jesus is our translator.
  3. The Holy Spirit is our teacher.

First, in order to read something and understand it, you need to know the language it is written in. But, I’m not talking about Hebrew and Greek, even English, here.

“Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” – Hebrews 1:1-2

The Old Testament was written over a period of about 1,500 years. God spoke at many times. In the Old Testament, we have books of law, history, wisdom, psalms, and prophecy. Within those books, we have genealogies, short sayings, elaborate instructions for building a tabernacle, specific regulations on numerous types of offerings, a calendar of feasts, etc. God spoke in many ways.

But, today (these last days) God speaks “to us by his Son.” I italicized the word “his” because it is that way in many Bibles. When the Bible italicizes a word, that means the word is not in the original written language but was added by the translators for clarity (not all Bibles follow this convention though). So, the word “his” was added by the translators to the translation from Greek to English to help you understand what the author is saying. But does “his” do that?

Based on the entire context of Hebrews, I would argue it does not. In fact, I believe it actually disguises what the writer of Hebrews was really trying to say. Let’s remove the word “his.” Then the verse says that today God speaks “to us by Son.” The Greek word for “by” also means “in.” In this verse, it is translated both ways depending on which version you are reading. I prefer in. Therefore, today God speaks “to us in Son.”

What does it mean that God speaks “in Son”? Well…with what language am I writing to you? In English. So, to say that today God speaks in Son is the same as saying I am writing to you in English.

What is Hebrews 1:1-2 saying? Long ago God spoke at many times in many ways (different languages) but today God speaks in the language of Son. Therefore, when we read the Bible, we need to know it is written in the language of Son.

If the Bible was written in many “languages” but is now to be understood in the language of Son, then how are we to understand it? This brings us to our second key concept, Jesus is our translator.

In Luke 24, we find a story about two disciples walking from Jerusalem to Emmaus three days after Jesus was crucified. They have heard Jesus’ body is not in the tomb, but nobody has seen him yet. They are leaving Jerusalem dejected because Jesus said he would rise in three days. It didn’t happen. Now what are they going to do?

A stranger starts walking with them and asks them what they are talking about. So, the two disciples tell the stranger everything that has happened in Jerusalem. Upon hearing all these events, the stranger calls them foolish ones and asks why they are slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke about the Christ suffering. The disciples did not know it, but this stranger was Jesus.

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” – Luke 24:27

Jesus interpreted the Bible to these two disciples. Why do you need an interpreter? When you need to translate something from one language to another. His interpretation revealed where he was throughout all the scriptures. God used to speak in many languages but today he speaks in Son. God has gone from one language to another. The new language is Son, and we need the Son, Jesus, to interpret that language for us. And, of course Jesus can do this because he is the Word of God.

Upon receiving this translation and realizing that it was Jesus translating the scriptures for them, the hearts of the two disciples burned within them. Later Jesus did the same thing with the other disciples. Luke 24:45 says, “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” When Jesus translates the Bible in the language of Son for you it is as if the heavens are opened up and you receive new revelation to understand the Bible.

Even though he is our translator, we do not have the resurrected Jesus physically here with us. Therefore, the third key concept for how we study the Bible is the Holy Spirit is our teacher.

Just before he died, Jesus told the disciples it was better for them that he go away because then the Helper would come.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” – John 14:26

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide [see 2 Timothy 3:16-17] you into all truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify [see John 5:39-40] me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” – John 16:13-15

The Holy Spirit is our teacher. He guides and bears witness to Jesus. He leads us to eternal life.

given all that, what are we going to do to study the bible?

We are going to read through Bible in one year using a daily reading plan. Each week when we get together we will discuss the scriptures assigned for that week. God willing, each week we will see Jesus revealed in the scriptures we read. Following are seven principles for what we are going to do to study the Bible.

  1. We will read through the Bible in one year using a daily reading plan. This means we will read three to four chapters a day. It should take you about 15-25 minutes to do the reading.
  2. Set your mind to do this. Having had many false starts in daily Bible reading earlier in my walk with Jesus, I know how important it is to firmly set your mind to do this. You need a made up mind. You can do it!
  3. Start your day with prayer and the Bible reading. Jesus regularly got alone with the Father early in the morning. The Bible says to “call on the name of the Lord.” So, do that. Audibly. Call out the name Jesus until your heart and mind are fixed on him. Also, I have found the morning is the best time to do the reading because it gets my day started right. I get up, pray, make a cup of coffee, and read the Bible, expecting to hear from Jesus. And, I often receive a word from Jesus that I will need later that day (see my two examples above).
  4. Before reading, specifically ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus to you in what you are about to read. Remember, Jesus is our interpreter and the Holy Spirit is our teacher. We need their help for the scriptures to bear witness and point us to Jesus, who is eternal life.
  5. Read the Bible like you would a good novel. I don’t mean that the Bible isn’t real or true. But, the Bible is God’s revelation of his son to us. And, God chose to reveal Jesus to us in a series of stories at many different times and in many different ways. But, those stories share a common language. These stories share similar patterns, themes, and symbols. Reading the Bible like a novel will help you identify these. Reading the Bible over and over and over again will make them even more identifiable.
  6. Be patient in your reading. There are going to be passages that make absolutely no sense. There are going to be passages that seem really boring. Don’t skip them! Keep plodding along and let the difficult parts slowly penetrate your heart. Often, these passages contain the deepest truths and insights into Jesus.
  7. Distractions and interruptions will happen. From personal experience, I guarantee this will happen. Initially, you will get sleepy, even if you are reading first thing in the morning. You might get a phone call. Your kids might get sick. You might get sick. Anything and everything will try to get in your way and keep you from reading the Bible. The devil doesn’t want you to do this because it will change your life. So, no matter what happens – PRESS ON! If you miss a day, then double up the next day. Whatever you do, don’t give up.

the goal

We are not reading the Bible for head knowledge, as an intellectual pursuit. Nor are we reading the Bible because it is an item on a check list. We don’t do it, check it off, and say I don’t ever need to do that again. Nor is this some religious obligation we perform because we are supposed to. Reading the Bible is an act of faith.

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” – Hebrews 11:6

The goal is that our lives would be transformed. This is about setting our minds on Jesus so that he can renew them. This is a life-long effort until the Lord calls us back home.

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:1-2.

I look forward to you joining in this endeavor!