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All Families, Eternal Life

December 2, 2016 - Bible Series, Genesis

 

And I will bless THEM that bless thee, and curse HIM that curseth thee: and in thee shall ALL FAMILIES of the earth be blessed. – Genesis 12:3

There is a second part of God’s promise to Abraham that incorporates a broad range of nationalities and ethnicities, which the Bible called “all families.” This group is not just the previous great nation (Israel) in the first part of the promise described here. Foreign nations or people will be joined or grafted to the great nation (see Romans 9:24-26 and Romans 11:24). This group would be blessed, and their blessing would be tied to Abraham and his seed. God also told Abraham that in him, all (every) families would be blessed. I believe that includes not just every other nation, but also Israel the original great nation.

Through Jesus (the seed of Abraham), Israel and the Gentile nations would be blessed and reconciled to God. That is why I believe the Jews also have the choice of salvation through faith in Jesus. I believe over the past 2000 years, people still got saved through freedom of conscience (if they died without ever hearing of Christ), through the Law of Moses, or by grace through Christ. I believe this is one reason why Christ said He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. If the Law was abolished, then every Jew for the last 2000 years will be irredeemably heading to hell. I find that really difficult to believe (see Romans 3:31). God puts eternity in our hearts causing us to seek the Divine. He is the way, truth and life – the three doors leading to the Holy of Holies in the temple. He is also the author of Salvation through faith in Christ. These are historically different paths to salvation, but all lead through one common door – Jesus. Christ is the only door to salvation, He came and showed us the better way, and today, the whole world has heard of Him. It is the rejection of Christ (the perfect way) that now condemns the world (John 3:18-19).

I believe Genesis 12:1-3 is telling us that there is one covenant (with Abraham) and two promises that are given under it. The Bible classifies these conditional promises as the Old and New Testaments. That is why I think the early apostles constantly talked about salvation first to the Jews and then to the Greeks/Gentiles (Romans 3:29 and 1 Corinthians 12:13). Let there be no misunderstanding, the Jews are biological descendants of Abraham and have a special place in God’s plan. The Gentiles are Abraham’s children by faith and receive the blessings of the covenant through faith in Christ’s redemptive work. To reconcile all families to himself, God sent his son Jesus to effect the restoration. Now we who were not His people are forever grafted into the family tree of the Almighty.

Eternal life

 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. – John 3:16

This is arguably the most quoted passage in the Bible and, without any doubt, a classic favorite. It is often seen as an embodiment of all that Christ came to do: His mission and work of reconciliation. Everything He did was so that we could receive eternal life just by believing on His name. An understanding of what eternal life really means is therefore crucial to our understanding of God’s perfect will. Eternal life cannot just mean that we will live forever, because Christ did not have to come for that. We would still have lived forever, even if He never died for our sins. We might only have ended up spending the time in hell. So what does eternal life really mean? The definition is actually given to us in the Bible: and this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent (John 17:3). Life is not the air we breathe or the things that we do. It is our knowing God and his Christ. Life is no more than our restoration to God, while death is a separation from Him. In the light of this understanding, John 3:16 can be interpreted as God sending His Son to restore or reconcile the world to Himself. This has been God’s plan from the very beginning; nothing has changed it. Every law, every scribe, every prophet, and every war recorded in the Bible is all about bringing the lost home to their Maker. They were to reconcile earth to heaven, to perfect a universal harmony and to unite all things in Christ. That is eternal life.

A Final Word

The first chapter of Genesis gives us an introduction into the Word of God, His plans for us, and His plans for earth, our home. This chapter has been the foundation for the traditional version of the creation story outlining the six days of creation followed by the seventh day of rest. This series on the beginning attempts to express a slightly different approach to this traditional understanding of the Genesis account.

I believe the creation story is summarized only in the first verse of Genesis 1 and the remaining verses of the chapter are describing a restoration process that followed the angelic rebellion described in the books of Isaiah and 2 Peter. This conclusion is based on these and other Scriptures, including Job 38 that describes a period before either the flood or darkness overcame the earth.

These accounts suggest that the flood and darkness were not the early phases of the building process, as often implied, but rather, they were things that the Maker installed for good reason (2 Samuel 22:10). They also indicate that angelic hosts were earlier residents and worshipers here on earth before man had ever been created and that they attempted a mutiny in heaven, but were defeated and judged. We see further glimpses of this rebellion through several books, including the book of Revelation that estimates the number of the rebels at a third of the angelic hosts. Put together, these passages indicate that there was a lot of activity between the first and second verses of Genesis 1—of which the Bible remained silent at the time the first five books were written. Furthermore, I do not believe the Genesis 1 account was giving us a description of how the earth was formed. If it were, a description of the earth’s foundation and how it was put in orbit would have been more effective. Perhaps, an account of how the dust and waters were created would have been included as well. Rather, we are given a narrative on how living and celestial things were made from these pre-existing foundations of earth and water. The Bible was not therefore describing how the original earth was formed, but how it was restored. It is like describing the restoration work on an old house. We describe rebuilding and repainting the walls, bringing in new furniture and fresh plumbing. We do not talk about laying the foundation again. That can be done only at the very beginning of construction. The Bible thus implies that the earth is much older than the 4000 years we traditionally assign to it. This age accounts only for the time since restoration. Knowledge of the exact age of the earth would probably add very little to our faith and God did not consider it important enough to add into the Bible.

It is my opinion that the activities enumerated above where not mentioned in Genesis 1 in a bid to avoid distracting students of the Bible from the main purpose of the book. I believe this opening chapter of the Bible gives the necessary introductions to the scope and purpose of God’s grand plan: the restoration of the earth and its inhabitants to God.

I have also tried to argue through this series, that the theme revealed in Genesis 1 is identical to that of Genesis 8 and the  Gospels of the New Testament. All three began with judgment and the reintroduction of light and life. They all end with the commission to be fruitful, multiply, replenish the earth, and subdue it. If the last two are restorative processes, then it seems appropriate to conclude that the first one is as well.

The Bible only describes the roughly 2000 years of restorative work from Adam to the early apostles and nothing before or after. Consequently, I believe that events that have no significant relevance to this grand scheme of restoration are totally omitted from the book. This might explain why historically “hot” subjects such as Evolution, Confucius, Plato, and Alexander the Great have no place in the Word of God.

The aim of this commentary is to encourage Christians to look at the things we do daily, whether in thought, words, or deeds, and ask ourselves, “Is this significant? Do the things we do really matter with God? Or are we just wasting our time?” At the end of the age, the only things that will count are the things that fall into God’s grand plan of restoration.

Even Christ lived His life here “to seek and save what was lost,” and because of Him, we who were not a people can now be called the children of God.

His restoration work on the cross at Golgotha was completed for us: spirit, soul, and body. We are now joined to God in Spirit. Our mind is renewed and can grasp the knowledge of the Most High, and our body quickened by the Holy Ghost (Romans 8:11). This redemptive work of Christ on our spirit, soul, and body restores the full likeness and similitude of God in us. It is a glorious event, for we are no longer bound by the power of sin or decay. Christ has set us free from the natural course of death and darkness and translated us into His marvelous light.

We are, therefore, free to live, love and worship Him. We are free to serve in holiness and with a clear conscience, knowing that the power of the Almighty rests on us. Our accuser, the devil, has been defeated and our advocate, the Son, now stands before God, constantly interceding on our behalf that we may overcome in this life and reign with Him in eternity. No matter what this life tosses our way, we can have a full confidence that the power to subdue the earth has been restored to us. Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. We are the generation of His covenant children, a royal priesthood, and a people of praise. Let us rejoice and be patient, knowing that our victory is assured if we remain steadfast in our faith.

The world around may crumble. The hearts of men everywhere may fail from so much hardship, but we shall stand and conquer. As God spared no expense to restore His earthly temple in Genesis 1, He will spare no expense to restore us—His temple of the new covenant in the blood of Jesus.

I therefore encourage you, friends, to rejoice in God always for He never changes or fails. He is our Alpha and our Omega. His plans for us have never changed. Rather, they have remained unwavering while He worked His way to us to gather us to Himself. It is such a blessing to be counted among God’s children. Let us, therefore, build Christian character. Go out and share the Good News, and His power will go with us to confirm His Word in our mouth.

I end this Series on Genesis 1 with the charge given us by our God and King: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.” May God fulfill His word in our lives in Jesus name. Amen.

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