Prosperity, Posterity, Pilgrimage (pt 2)

Paradise Lost, and God’s Plan to redeem, re-establish and restore His Kingdom. First part of the program is to own the land.

This post on Prosperity, Posterity and Pilgrimage is a work in progress.  I need to convince myself in these meditations, and validate my conclusions. However not having any theological training, I resort to reading excerpts of best books in particular fields, using “cheat sheets” from reviews, synopsis, sample chapters in Kindle, or the “Look Inside” feature in Amazon books.  While my reading / search might not be exhaustive, I believe my conclusions have been made with prayer and due diligence and would satisfy my personal quest for meaning and relevance, giving sense and convictions for my faith to “go into the deep”.

And behold, this morning as I was reviewing the previous posting, the term ‘Paradise Lost” crept in!  I wonder whether anyone really is familiar with this ancient ‘dinosaur’ classic? I googled. Wow – John Milton published his ten poems / books in 1674.  The first is about Satan, aided by Beelzebub and Mammon sabotaging and stealing man’s paradise.  The former commonly known as lord of the flies (carrier of diseases) and the latter associated with the greedy pursuit of gain or wealth.  Did Milton had insights then that the temptation of Eve had to do with health and wealth?

God’s purposes cannot be thwarted!  He would and could redeem the paradise that was lost when Adam sold out to satan, and restore His Kingdom!

His Plan began with a person, then a plot (of land), and then a people!

And God would empower and enrich them to do so, with prosperity and posterity; and purposefully in the Progeny of Jesus to be the Redeemer of the corrupted and contaminated earth, and finally Redeemer of lost souls.

Graeme Goldsworthy, writing in ‘The Kingdom of God and the Old Testament’ said

we see nothing less than the promise of the king­dom of God. Abraham’s descendants are to be God’s people, in God’s place, under God’s rule.

It is Goldworthy’s recurring theme in his foundational Introduction to Biblical Theology – “According to Plan”

 

According to plan

God called Abraham and promised him a nation and a land.  This is getting exciting – I just found this in Wikipedia on Abraham –

“Abraham (Hebrew: אַבְרָהָם, ….

The narrative in Genesis revolves around the themes of posterity and land. Abraham is called by God to leave the house of his father Terah and settle in the land originally given to Canaan, but which God now promises to Abraham and his progeny. Various candidates are put forward who might inherit the land after Abraham, but all are dismissed except for Isaac, his son by his half-sister Sarah. Abraham purchases a tomb (the Cave of the Patriarchs) at Hebron to be Sarah’s grave, thus establishing his right to the land, …”

The contest for the land is still ongoing at this very moment. UNESCO robbed Israel of the Abraham’s legacy of Hebron see  http://www.timesofisrael.com/unesco-votes-to-declare-hebron-an-endangered-site/).  Clashes and attacks upon Abraham’s descendants break out almost every day over Mount Zion. Again it’s about land, and Jesus would return and set foot on Mount Olive and then in the Millennium, reign from Jerusalem.

The Old Testament has details of Abraham’s future generations and genealogies – in owning earthly real-estate for the eternal Kingdom – “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”

Gen 15:  18 On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your offspring I give this land

Gen 26: And the Lord appeared to him (Isaac) and said, …. dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed,

12 And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The Lord blessed him, 13 and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy. 14 He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him.

Gen 35: 10 And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. 11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body.12 The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.”

 The Land W Bruggermann

Walter Brueggermann said in ‘The Land – Place as Gift, Promise, and Challenge in Biblical Faith” =

“… see that the Old Testament, in its theological articulation, was not all about “deed,” but was concerned with place, specific real estate that was invested with powerful promises and with strategic arrangements for presence in the place as well.  Once I had seen that much, then it was a ready development to see the dialectic in Israel’s fortunes between landlessness (wilderness, exile) and landedness, the latter either as possession of the land, as anticipation of the land, or as grief about loss of the land; it was on that basis … all aspects being referred to God of the covenant Torah” 

.. The land was one of the most vibrant symbols for the people of ancient Israel. In the land-gift, promise, and challenge-was found the physical source of Israel’s fertility and life, and a place for the gathering of the hopes of the covenant people. 

Within the entire Old Testament, there are more than 2700 references to land. According to Elmer Martens, “The term ‘land’ is the fourth-most frequent substantive in the Old Testament.”

Read Deut 8:7-18

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless theLord your God for the good land he has given you.

11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, 15 who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, 16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end.17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ 18 You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day.

The Land is Mine

From a reviewer of “The Land”, by Norman Habel, he goes in depth in his study of the Israelite people’s relationship to the land, and discovers six ideologies of land and its meaning to the Israelite people in the Hebrew Testament.

The ideologies (partial) are as follows:

–  The Land as the Source of Wealth (for the nation)
–  God has conquered the land for Israel

–  Land assigned by God
–  Up to each tribe to subdue the land and claim it for God’s people
·  The Land as God’s inheritance
–  The land, ultimately, is God’s
–  The healing of the land is coming
–  God is owner of the land

God first dwelt in the landed holy tabernacle, from which He reveals Himself through the people He chose, before He could tabernacle in our midst, born in the land of Bethlehem, and then tabernacle in our very lives in the Spirit. Our lives are His real estate.

We are sojourners in this earthly land, pilgrims on the way home!

Prosperity and posterity must be understood as the promises and blessings given to the chosen people in the Old Testament as empowerment to occupy the land on God’s behalf at a particular period of His program.  Prosperity and posterity (wealth and health) is not as what the WOF proponents advocate!

 2 Cor 5: 1For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

“The Exodus Song”
This land is mine, God gave this land to me
This brave and ancient land to me
And when the morning sun reveals her hills and plain
Then I see a land where children can run free

So take my hand and walk this land with me
And walk this lovely land with me
Though I am just a man, when you are by my side
With the help of God, I know I can be strong

Prosperity, Posterity and Pilgrimage (pt 1)

It has been more that a decade since the teachings of health and wealth have been a vexation. Knowing the caution of the evangelicals, and yet immersed in a church that boldly, unflinchingly and persuasively proclaim the WOF tenets. The quest for truth was kept simmering, and my ears and mental radar was ever turned on for all the arguments for and against.

I read widely, often intensively. The sermons, and testimonies on health and wealth in my church (and to the world) were hard to shake off or ignored. Somehow wanting to agree, but yet very much unconvinced.

Now it is clear.

Derek Vreeland in responding to critics of the WOF proponents wrote in RECONSTRUCTING WORD OF FAITH THEOLOGY: A Defense, Analysis and Refinement of the Theology of the Word of Faith Movement
He quoted Hagin – and then quoted Walter Kaiser, the renowned evangelical.

Abraham’s blessing is ours!… Abraham’s blessing was a threefold blessing. The first thing God promised Abraham was that He was going to make him rich. “Do you mean God is going to make us all rich?” Yes, that’s what I mean. “Do you mean He’s going to make us all millionaires?” No, I didn’t say that. But He is going to make us rich. You may not understand what the word “rich” means. The dictionary says it means “a full supply” or “abundantly provided for.” Praise God, there is a full supply in Christ! (Kenneth E. Hagin, Redeemed from Poverty, Sickness, and Spiritual Death, (Tulsa: Faith Library Publications, 1983),

The eulogia tou Abraam – blessing of Abraham – recorded in Galatians 3:14 (a) (my comment below) is a singular blessing (i.e. the justification of Abraham by faith) however the undeniable result of covenant blessing in Old Testament theology is material prosperity.

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. observes, “Material blessings in the Old Testament were used by God for various ends. First of all they were given that God might confirm his covenant promise to build a mighty nation.” (b)

God glorified himself in his covenant(s) with Israel by blessing them materially for specific purposes. The provisions of Yahweh were not only spiritual/ceremonial, but material/physical. The Psalmist declares, “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” In Word of Faith theology, these material blessing are conferred upon the Christian as the child of Abraham in Christ.

(a) But what about Hebrews 8? “v13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (I still need to be definite and sound in interpreting this). Has the covenant with Abraham been made obsolete? I am still wondering. It is no longer the blessings of Abraham being transmitted to us. It is through Abraham (progeny) that we are blessed in Jesus – “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ ….” (Eph 1:17-23).

(b) It is hard to doubt the reality of material blessings when Walter Kaiser was referenced. But then Kaiser pointed to the grounds for “His covenant promise – to build a mighty nation”! = For a purpose, ie. God’s purpose in Jesus! It is never for the elevation of Abraham or his descendants in the flesh or in the faith. Neither is it for the individualistic or personal gratification of our earthly needs and passions that distract our pilgrimage to Christ and eternity. Primarily it is for the glorification of His Son, and through His Son, we are blessed, having obtained the inheritance of our King and His kingdom.

Yes, we need to move on in God’s program in the land to His purpose in our Lord Jesus!
I can’t delineate the details and development for my fresh convictions about H&W. Progressively and slowly in fuzzy focus (oxymoron), but definitely now, as never before – sound and sensible and significant and satisfying to me personally with conviction. I tended to being a reductionist, so am not meticulous to show biblical evidence exhaustively. But it has fortified my convictions on this matter.

God has a Purpose in Jesus (Eph 1:3-14; Col 1:15-20). When men failed and fell, God being sovereign, already had a Plan (still in the context of His Purpose in Christ) that cannot be thwarted. Fallen men became fearful (Gen 3:10), but God reached out with a Promise to assuage and assure. His Plan would roll out progressively via a Program using people to repossess land judiciously till Jesus personally comes with full and final redemption.

The program began first with reclaiming earthly land for a Messiah to tabernacle in our midst. Then the program would be with our eternal LORD!

The promise tapered from the human race to the Hebraic race in the person of Abraham. Abraham would have a people (Gen 12:2,3;) and he will have a land (Gen 12:7) ie. posterity and property.

It makes sense to me now. To preserve and sustain the posterity and property, God promised health and wealth, so that the land remains in possession for Jesus to be tabernacled in our midst. Why did God expend so much ink to write about genealogies in the OT? It is posterity of the chosen race.  And health and wealth? – To ensure the fulfillment of His program and that His chosen race is resilient and enduring.

With the advent of Jesus, God’s program progresses on, no longer with the transient channel of the land, but with the LORD Himself!

Col 3: 3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

So I am to be preoccupied with the LORD, not with posterity and prosperity in this earthly abode, but with eternal kingdom values and goals.

With the Lord in our hearts, it is no longer prosperity (wealth) and posterity (health), but pilgrimage to the new earth and new heavens.

And Abraham was looking forward to the city that has eternal foundations … not the earthly possessions.

Heb 11: 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

1 Peter 2: 9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.
11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul.

The WOF teaching on health and wealth can lead to dire preoccupations that distort the kingdom truth and values, distract us from truly seeking the kingdom of God, and seeking for His will to be done. (Matt 6:10)

But I needed to validate my fresh understanding of God’s Purpose, Plan and Program in Jesus. Health and Wealth – posterity and prosperity are blessings and empowerment in the land for the first coming of Jesus. With Christ having tabernacled in the land, and having finished His work on the cross, it is now about my LORD and my pilgrimage to the eternal realm. I am merely a sojourner waiting for my eternal inheritance in the LORD – an alien and stranger here, better not be too comfortable and attached to things that are earthly, temporal and transient.

I needed to validate my thoughts. I prayed, searched, and was led to dive into biblical theology. Not being a pastor or bible college student with much reference materials, my task was inadequate and imperfect. I could only resort to whatever I had accumulated (Wordsearch, Logos, etc) and Google, and then use “cheat sheets’ of book reviews, synopsis, the ‘look inside’ within Amazon books etc. It has been satisfying.

More of this in the next post.

Shalom.

Phil 3:
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

God Desires to Bless Us – the Aaronic Blessing

710JD+LZSnLThe law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul  (Psalms 119:7)

Indeed God’s Word is perfect.  “at many times and in many ways, God spoke” (Heb 1:1).  He has revealed Himself in historical events (Egypt and Passover), visually (rainbow, bronze serpent, Noah’s ark, the Tabernacle, the Menorah, etc), Hebrew words and alphabet, the Feasts and seasons, colours, numbers, metals, personalities in types, etc to point to His Beloved Son, lest we fail to see that He has now spoken to us by his Son in these last days.

Many indeed has been astounded and awed by the fresh vista and vigour of God’s character and compassion when meditating devotionally in the words and alphabet of Hebrew, the language of God’s people. While devotional meditations augment one’s affection, awe, adoration and admiration for our Lord, it must not trigger off a devotional license to superimpose and overlay my devotions over established doctrines and teachings, or even to overstate or inflate such meditations as revelations of new teachings (actually recognising and realizing God’s revelation), or to draw attention to oneself as the source? of such enlightening “truth”. For “…. there is nothing new under the sun. Is there a thing of which it is said,  “See, this is new”?  It has been already in the ages before us.” (Ecc 1)

Devotional meditations must be consistent with the major and main biblical body of truth.

John Garr’s book “Our Lost Legacy” – restoring our Hebraic root of our faith” has been most instructional and illuminating to me.  Another of his book is “Bless You – Restoring the Power of Biblical Blessing”

How I was awed and filled with joy when I read his devotional explanation of the Aaronic Blessing in the original Hebrew language.  One must read it as this 2nd hand sharing would do injustice.

Numbers 6:22-26 (Jewish Orthodox Bible)

And Hashem spoke unto Moshe, saying, Speak unto Aharon and unto his Banim, saying, On this wise ye shall bless the Bnei Yisroel, saying unto them,

Y’varekhekha Adonai v’yishmerekha

(Hashem bless thee, and keep thee);

Ya’er Adonai panav eleikha vichunekha

(Hashem make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee);

Yissa Adonai panav eleikha v’yasem l’kha shalom

(Hashem lift up His countenance upon thee, and give thee shalom).

Firstly, within this 3-fold blessing there are 3, 5 and 7 Hebrew words in the respective blessing and benevolence upon His people

3 – God the Father Who desires to bless and keep us;

5 – the Son full of Grace (represented by the number 5), Who manifested, displayed and portrayed to us the Almighty Heavenly Father, as (Matt 17:2)

“If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” ….  “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”  Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:8,9)

7 – the Holy Spirit (Revelation mentions the seven spirits of God, sent into the world).

Secondly, within the 3-fold blessing, there are 5, 10 and 15 letters.  5 letters in the first 3 words, 10 letters in the second 5 words, and 15 letters in the last seven words.

Multiples of 5 – how God the Father has blessed us in His Son, Grace multiplied, Grace upon Grace!!!! Hallelujah.

Just as the prayer and blessing is for us to have spiritual revelation and wisdom to know Christ manifested in His face, so that our hearts can be enlightened (Eph 1:17,18), the prayer and blessing is for the Holy Spirit to lift up His face towards us and fill us with His shalom peace that is beyond understanding (Phil 4:7,9).  Indeed, He Who is the Comforter, will stoop down to my level, and in doing so, He lifts up His face and look at me with His tender eyes. Or as another put it, the Holy Spirit, in His role, in lifting us up towards Jesus, also lifts up His face upon us! He is ever my Comforter (Jn 14), and my Commander, Captain, Counsellor and Companion.  He will hug me, hold me by my hand as I pilgrim on to my blessed hope!

Hallelujah! What a Heavenly Father, what a Saviour, what a Comforter and Counsellor!

To Live Simply, as a Pilgrim

This morning, I chanced upon this article in Time magazine by Alysha Germain –

http://time.com/3850418/life-lessons-small-house/

Apparently, Germain’s story was featured widely elsewhere e.g.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3068188/Alysha-St-Germain-reveals-children-came-terms-death-husband-moving-tiny-house.html

And in her article, she cross-referenced to how to create a 33 piece wardrobe (applicable to men too); http://www.xojane.com/clothes/project-33-capsule-wardrobe and to http://theproject333.com/, on how to live simply.

 

While I was dwelling on the above, a close brother WhatsApp what he termed as an“impactful video” = about how one’s perspective on life changes, when one realizes that life is short after experiencing cancer :-

http://aplus.com/a/random-people-vs-cancer-patients-answer-same-questions-on-life?so=CC4aWTBQ2dv2WsqaBAkuPZ&ref=ns

Uncanny indeed – how these truths are reinforced, and brings to mind again of 1 Peter 2:11.

I ‘WhatsApp back, that there is a command in scriptures for us to live as pilgrims and sojourners, and that in all of scriptures, there isn’t any command for us to be healthy and wealthy, other than a wish and prayer to be in health in 3 John; ( and earthly wealth is never even implied).  John’s wish and prayer is not surprising, conscious of matters of health, as with all old people who are frail and feeble.  Yet above all 3 John specifically, categorically and primarily states “as your soul prospers”

Increasingly I am amazed and question the position of those who frequently proclaim and declare health and wealth as a given for believers.  This focus might entrench people to embrace this earthly life rather than arranging our lives to live as a pilgrm.

I have also been reading Romans these past days.  Paul argues and proclaims that the givens for our faith and our position in Christ – salvation, sanctification, righteousness, victory, etc etc. – all pertaining to the state of our soul and spirit, and nothing at all about health and wealth.  It is sad how the preoccupations of the WOF proponents have eclipsed and minimized the explicit scriptural teachings for our sanctification and spirituality with that of the wellness and wealth of our earthy abode.  Clearly contradictory to the categorical command to live as pilgrims and sojourners.

Three years ago, my wife and me decided to downgrade our living space.  It took us a few months to go through our belongings and discard or give away items we could do without.  Most of the hundreds of books were given away, mostly to a Christian College in the Philippines. Our smaller flat, a Studio Apartment (one third the size of our previous apartment, which is empty now) would be ready in the later part of next year.

When friends ask where are we staying now after we moved out of our apartment, we would reply we are living out of a backpack – ha ha.

Meanwhile, without a proper home, we are staying with two of our daughters, storing a few pieces of clothes in each of the daughters’ home.  In the weekdays, we would go over to the eldest with a simple backpack of clothes and essentials, and then moving over to stay with the youngest daughter in the weekends; only carrying a backpack back and forth.

Since being convicted by 1 Peter 2:11, it was indeed uncanny that I would get a sampling taste of living simply and travelling light.

 

1 Peter 2:11

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

 

Hebrews 11:13

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.