Aloha Friday Message – June 28, 2013 – Righteous for Real

1326AFC062813 – Righteousness for Real

Read it online here, please.

Genesis 15:6Abram believed the LORD, and the LORD considered his response of faith as proof of genuine loyalty. (NET Bible)

Romans 4:9Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness.

Romans 4:22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.”

Galatians 3:6 So also Abraham “believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.

Several times in the past, I have mentioned “my old friend, Abraham.” In this passage – which occurs before he was called Abraham – Abram is in the middle of a dialogue with God. God is blessing Abram with a promise to make him the progenitor of a people so numerous they cannot be counted. This people will dwell in a vast landscape that covers most of what we now call The Middle East.

Promised-Land1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remember now that this Promised Land is not going to be called Israel for hundreds of years. The Land and the People were only part of the promise. God’s promise included Greatness, and God’s Protection for Abram and all his descendants, in fact ALL generations would eventually become heirs of this Covenant between God and Abram.

So how did this work? How did God choose this one man to bless so prolifically, so magnanimously? And we also have to wonder why God chose Abram from “Ur of the Chaldeans.” (Ur is over on the right-hand side of the map.) As you can see, Ur is located in what is now Southern Iraq. It was an important site of governance, trade, religion, and population and devoted to the moon god, Nanna. It is possible that Ur had been founded around 500 years before Abram’s time. There were libraries, schools. Their complex legal system was associated with the religion of Nanna’s followers who practiced astrology and witchcraft and worshiped idols dedicated to celestial objects (sun, moon, stars) and earthly objects (air, water, earth, even warfare). Abram’s father, Terah, worshipped these idols, and Jewish tradition points toward Terah as a maker of idols.

Terah was originally from Canaan and left Ur to go back there. He took part of his family with him including Abram and his wife Sarai, but they only went part way, settling in Haran for several years. God’s command to Abram was to go to Canaan, but the traveled considerably north and east of there on a trade route between the Mediterranean and the Tigris-Euphrates valley. After the death of his father and several false starts, Abram finally pointed his footsteps toward Canaan; during all the time he was delayed in Haran He did not hear the voice of God. With Genesis 12, we continue with the history of God’s plan of redemption, and it begins with God calling a man and the man obeying. From this point forward, Abram’s loyalty to God is continually strengthened and so also the blessing grew in pace with his obedience and faith.

Abram was called to leave his home, his life, the very wicked city of Ur, and much of his family to go “where he knew not.” He didn’t get to it right away, but let life sort of play out along the way. When he finally did make up his mind to do as God had commanded, he once again heard from God, and God rewarded his obedience with an unprecedented Covenant. We, too, are called to move away from the places and people of sin and death toward righteousness and life. We, too, allow many diversions to slow us down along the path leading to the Promise of the New Covenant which fulfills the Promise of the Old Covenant. We are blessed and become a blessing, we are in the enormous family of the Name above all names, we are moving toward a Promised Land called Heaven, and every step of the way our obedience and loyalty to God is guarded and protected by his Holy Spirit as a gift of God’s boundless and unmerited Grace.

Abram did not earn God’s blessing. It was an outright gift from God. Somehow Abram heard the voice of God amidst all the clamor and glamour of the evil around him. We do not know how he knew with certainty that it was God’s voice, but the narrative we have demonstrates that he heard God and believed what he heard to be from God himself. In this we see the substance of God’s Redemptive Mercy. We, too, receive unmerited Grace is extreme abundance. We have scripture that tells us the wonders of God’s love where Abram had only reasoning that God must be God and therefore capable of keeping his promises. We have the traditions of faith that are passed down to us literally from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all the way through to Christ and his Apostles where Abram had only God’s direct orders which he sometimes chose to ignore (as do we!). We have, more than any other generation in history, access to wider and deeper understanding of biblical history and scholarship where Abram had only an imagined future described in broad strokes by a God he did not choose but who instead chose him.

In this we see that, as always, God acts first. God is Creator. God is Love. God is Light. God is Promise. God is Salvation. God is preeminent in all actions, things, and places. God is directed only by his own Divine resolution. In choosing Abram, God continues the development of the plan of redemption given us in Genesis 3. In Abram, once he is given the name Abraham – Father of Multitudes – “all nations are blessed.” God promises that among Eve’s descendants there would be One who would crush the head of the serpent; Abram begins that long, long line of descendants leading to Mary and her child, the Son of God. It was Mary’s fiat, her unequivocal YES, which literally brought God’s salvific plan to fruition. It was Abram’s unwavering loyalty to God which literally opened the way to the Covenant Promises. Abram and Mary both submitted to God through a free choice, remained committed to that choice throughout all of their life on Earth, and it was “imputed to them as righteousness.” That is, God sees His righteousness in us because we place our faith, our trust, or loyalty, our decisions for obedience in HIM.

Beloved, that is one amazing Promise! It is our promise to claim, it is our purpose to pursue it, and it is our expectation to receive it. Just not all right now.

Say what?

Let’s go back to Genesis and fast-forward a few pages to Genesis 15:16 –  But in the fourth generation [about 400 years according to many scholars] they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full. Four-hundred years? 400! What kind of a promise is that? Abraham lived to be 175 years old. Even at that ripe old age, he knew he would not see the promise of his descendants living in the lands promised to him at age 76. He was 99 when God told him Sarai would bear him a son to be named Isaac. Although initially Abram was not what one would call an outstanding example of pure faith, he grew in wisdom and knowledge of God as God continued to reveal himself. The greatest spiritual value which Abraham’s later-life shows us is that whatever Good we have in life always comes first and only from God. And God is in no hurry. He let the Amorites sin their way into oblivion for 400+ years, the time between the birth of Abram and the birth of Moses. During much of that period, the people that would become the nation of Israel were enslaved in Egypt.  During that long journey from the Covenant meeting at Haran to the entry into Canaan by Joshua, Caleb, and the Israelites, the tradition of the Covenant with Abraham and his descendants was the guiding influence for the God’s Chosen People. During that long wait, God formed his People and prepared them for the fulfillment of all his promises.

We, too, have been on a long journey, a journey much longer than 400 years. We are already more than 2000 years past the birth of Christ and probably less than 50 years from the 2000th year since his death. Since God has already taken the initiative in our redemption, we have the opportunity to walk on this journey with Abraham and all his descendants from the Old and the New Covenants – a MULTITUDE INDEED! Along the way, then, let us remember to continue to move forward without being delayed by distractions put up by our enemy. Let us always choose to be loyal to God whenever our own wisdom argues against it. Beloved, shall we make this journey with Abraham, all of Israel, and all the saints of God who follow his Christ? I say we shall, and as we are engaged in our journey of obedience, I believe God will – as he has done before – look upon our faithful obedience with gracious kindness.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

chick 💡 ➡

Pray for America, Beloved. We have continued to be distracted by our enemy’s plans.

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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