Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Reason for the Season-Part 2

Note: This is part 2 of a sermon that I was honored to give at Litton Springs United Methodist Church during the Lenten Season earlier this year. To read Part 1, go here.

Litton Springs United Methodist Church

Moving back to the Old Testament scripture, we see that God instructs Abram to get certain animals in verse 9. Abram responds to God like he always does: he obeys. He collects all of the specified animals and divides all of them in half, except the birds and places them apart from each other. Is this starting to remind you of the animal that was divided in the marriage ceremony?

At dusk, he is very afraid and goes to sleep. In his dream, he receives prophesy from God about his descendants and their captivity in Egypt and his subsequent rescue of them. But before that, Abram will die at a ripe old age.

In verse 17, a smoking pot descends. The smoke is a symbol of God. This will be apparent again in the Old Testament in Exodus Chapters 18 and 19, where the Lord appears to the Hebrews with fire and smoke. Then the smoking pot passes between the halves. This is symbolic for the promises of God to Abram. Remember, God is the greater party in this covenant, so he makes the offer and the terms and goes first in this exchange. The penalty that would be put on God for breaking his promises to Abram in this covenant is death to God.

If ever I have heard a theological conundrum, this is it. How does someone take the life of life itself?

In this covenant, here is what God promises:
1. To be Abram’s shield and exceeding great reward-verse 1
2. An heir and a number of descendents as many as there are stars-verses 4 &5
3. Land with specific borders-verse 7 and verses 18-21.

To find out the requirements of Abram in this covenant go to Chapter 17, verse 1:

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me and be thou perfect.

So now we see what Abram had to promise: to be perfect. And what would be his penalty for not keeping  his promise? Death. No wonder he was scared!

In addition to the smoking pot that I mentioned earlier, the text refers to a burning lamp passing between the two pieces. My bible says that the Hebrew says flaming torch.

All throughout the bible fire or flame is a symbol of God. So the flame moving from piece to piece is symbolic of this: God, in his infinite wisdom knew that Abram and his descendants could not be perfect, so this is what he was saying: “Abram, I know you can’t be perfect, so I’ve got your back on this. Rather than you dying for your imperfections or sins, I will give my life in your place.”

This begs the same question as before: How do you take the life of life itself?

Here is the answer: God comes to earth as a human-Emmanuel. He becomes God with us and he lays down his life for man to take. And that fulfills the penalty of man’s breaking this covenant, which God knew that Abram and his descendants would do. 

The whole idea of the death of Jesus as the “Lamb of God” was a secret between God and Jesus before the world was formed. Some scriptures that reference this holy mystery are: Titus 1:2, 2 Timothy 1:9, 1 Peter 1:19-20, and Rev. 13:8. They knew that man would fall, they knew that they would need to provide a solution for sin for reconciliation. And they knew that this was best kept secret so that Satan would not understand what was happening. They tricked Satan into thinking that he had won. But the plan was made before the formation of the world. Isn’t God amazing?!

John 10: 17-18 says
17 Therefore doth my father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.
18 No man taketh if from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

Matthew 5:17 says, Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.

Jesus died on the cross of his own agreement to fulfill the terms of this covenant.

John Chapter 19:30 says,
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said “ It is finished” and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

At that point, the terms of this covenant were satisfied for all who had come before him and all who would come in the future who would take up his cross and follow him.

The birth,
The life,
The death and 
The resurrection of Jesus Christ ties every last letter of the entire bible into one story.

Here is the story in a nutshell:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, so that whosoever shall believeth on him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3: 16

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit…

Thanksgiving Challenge and Joy Dare:
Today, I am thankful for:

119. Good food.
120. Funny jokes.
121. Help from the Holy Spirit.

copyright 2012 by Kathy Robbins

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful message, thank you for sharing. Bless you!