Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Look Who's Standing By The Ark

Before God kicked Adam and Eve out of the garden He made them a promise. The entirety of scripture is based upon that promise. Whenever we read God's Word we must read it through the lens of the words spoken to the serpent in Eden in Genesis 3:15, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." The essence of the promise was this: Satan will always be crawling along on his belly striking at the heels of men in an attempt to sink his venom of disobedience into them in hopes of bringing them down; but God will come slamming down upon the head of Satan with a death blow from His heel. The promise of Genesis 3:15, however, doesn't state it in that order! The order of the promise is that the death blow comes before the striking of the serpent. Why? Because God wants us to know how the story ends before the next strike of the enemy takes place. The enemy will strike again, but when he does, we can rest assured that the head that struck us will be crushed by the heel of the Almighty!

Likewise, God told a childless ninety-nine-year-old man, "You will be the father of many nations . . ." -- Genesis 17:3. God begins with "nations" when we would be happy to begin with a "child." God loves to tell us the ending first. Knowing the ending helps us face the battles along the way. One such glimpse of how God does this can be found in Joshua 8. This comes shortly after a battle that didn't go very well at first -- the battle for Ai. The battle didn't go well initially because man was waging it on his own terms rather than on the terms of God. Once the people of God were back on track the battle was easily won.  It is at this point that God takes us 'back to the future' with this description of the scene, "There, in the presence of the Israelites, Joshua copied on stones the law of Moses, which he had written. All Israel, aliens and citizens alike, with their elders, officials and judges, were standing on both sides of the ark of the covenant of the Lord, facing those who carried it . . ." -- Joshua 8:32-33. Did you catch it? Did you see what  God just said? Look closely this time, "There in the presence of the Israelites . . . All Israel, aliens and citizens alike . . . were standing on both sides of the ark of the covenant of the Lord . . ." Did you catch it? "Israel" which means 'struggles with God' is no longer composed of a small group of descendants of Shem! Abraham has begun to father nations! Long before Christ the aliens were included among the people of God. Before the land promised to Abraham was ever distributed among the tribes, the aliens were included among the people of God. "They were standing on both sides of the ark of the promise of the Lord!" The aliens in Israel, which God had promised Abram that he would father, were not placed on a reservation on the West Bank of the Jordan or on a tiny strip of land in Gaza. They took part in the promise of God. Why? Because they were children, not born in the ordinary way, but born of God. Children not born of the law on Sinai, but born of promise. Paul tells us centuries later, "Now you, brothers like Isaac, are children of promise. . . Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son" -- Galatians 4:28, 30.

The fact that aliens are included in the description of Israel before the land was ever distributed is an inconvenient truth for many evangelicals today in much the same way as it was when Paul wrote Galatians. Perhaps you could take some time today to pray for believers living in the West Bank and Gaza, remembering that the Ark of the Promise no longer dwells on the temple mount in Jerusalem, but now rests in the hearts of God's covenant people, "born not in the ordinary way; but as the result of a promise." May Bethlehem, the city in which our Savior was born, be blessed by His presence today. May Bethlehem experience the same peace that we so easily pray for Jerusalem.

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