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Grace & Truth: The Narrow Gate

 

 

 

GRACE AND TRUTH

THE NARROW GATE

Johannes Broos

Grace & Truth

In a Biblical narrative and in detail, the reader is invited to join part of an amazing journey God has designed to start with one man to prepare a people to bring forth one Man to bring Salvation to all of mankind. It describes the various life’s of an ancient people and their different nature. The first king of Israel, Saul, and second king, David, the man after God’s own heart and in the lineage of Jesus. When passing through the Narrow Gate we are offered to drink from the Living Water and to start our own journey with the living God. No longer alone, but with the best Friend ever. He will be the lamp for our feet and a light on our path and part of every aspect in our life. God’s intrinsic value for each and every human being is beyond understanding and His great love and mercy are incredible.

John 4:14 (NIV) But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

Author Bio

Johannes Broos, a native of the Netherlands, is a formal farmer and an internationally operating businessman. He is happily married with three daughters, three sons-in-law, and four grandchildren. He and his family reside in South Africa. When he is not managing his own company, he enjoys nature and reading (with emphasis on history). Recently, Johan has sensed a calling from the Lord that inspired him to write the book you hold in your hands. About his new calling Johan says, “I feel like a fountain with new ideas, and never in my life have I been so excited to do something for God’s Kingdom by His guidance and inspiration.” Indeed, he is working on two more books at this time.

 

Copyright © 2017 Johannes Broos. All rights reserved.

 

No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without prior permission of Johannes Broos. Requests may be submitted by email: [email protected]

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Bible.

 

Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

Unmarked quotations are paraphrases by the author.

 

Editing and formatting services by ChristianEditingServices.com.

 

 

Shakespir Edition, License Notes

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your favorite ebook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

This book is dedicated to all members of the human family.

We are all loved by an awesome Creator.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Introduction

PART 1: THE TRUTH OF GOD IN BIBLICAL TEACHING

Chapter 1. The Truth about Us

Chapter 2. The Broad Way and the Narrow Gate

Chapter 3. The Truth about Truth

Chapter 4. Conscience, Good, and Evil

Chapter 5. Human Rebellion

PART 2: THE PLAN OF GOD’S GRACE IN BIBLICAL HISTORY

Chapter 6. God’s Way to the Narrow Gate

Chapter 7. The Birth of the Hebrew People

Chapter 8. Joseph and His Dreams—Famine in the Land

Chapter 9. Moses and the Exodus

Chapter 10. Joshua and the Conquest

Chapter 11. The Judges

Chapter 12. The First Kings of Israel

Conclusion

Endnotes

Index

Scripture Index

INTRODUCTION

 

I wrote this book because of a burden inside me to share important information with all humans who are seeking for truth. There is much confusion and deception today, yet God’s truth remains. It is my hope that every reader of this book will learn how God operates through His truth and His grace to accomplish His eternal purposes in our world and in our lives. Humanity has fallen into sin and death, but God has a perfect plan for redemption. That divine plan is taught in Scripture and worked out in biblical history. It was initiated by God’s love for humanity and is fulfilled in the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Part 1

 

THE TRUTH OF GOD

IN BIBLICAL TEACHING

1

THE TRUTH ABOUT US

To live a meaningful life in this world is not an easy task. There is much confusion and deception and conflicting opinions and feelings. Many believe education and science will give us truth and knowledge, but in many ways the result has been just the opposite. There is uncertainty and confusion in religion, politics, economics, the environment, and our future. Morality is not settled in society, and there are conflicting ideas about good and evil. Our modern Western culture is upside down.

Where Do We Come From?

So where do we start with all this? I think we must start where it all began, with the crucial question “Where do we come from?” This question must be answered correctly if our journey here on earth is to have meaning. Knowing where we come from gives us the right answer for where we are to go in this life—and what comes after this life.

We are told constantly that our origin is found in evolution. However, the Bible, the Book of Life, tells us we are created not as animals but as beings made in the image of the Creator (Genesis 1:26). Human beings are the direct creation of God, apart from any evolutionary process. This is the clear teaching of Genesis.

I understand that it is very difficult for many to believe what the Bible says about this and many other issues, for to do so is to set ourselves against what science and the majority of society tell us. However, when we submit to what the Bible teaches, we find a clear and satisfying answer to the question of our origin, in contrast to evolution, which really tells us nothing about where we come from.

Excursus: The Impossibility of Evolution

Many books have been written about both evolution and creation. There are many able defenders of biblical creation who offer strong and convincing arguments for the Bible’s teaching. The strongest and best argument I have come across is that of Dr. Douglas Clarke on green symbiosis, which I will summarize here.1

Photosynthesis

Wikipedia offers a good definition of photosynthesis: “Process used by plants and other autotrophic organisms to convert light energy, from the sun, into chemical energy that can be used to fuel organisms and activities. Carbohydrates, such as sugars, are synthesized from carbon dioxide and water during the process and oxygen is released.”2

A chlorophyll molecule, a green pigment, is the single most critical substance in photosynthetic plants. Actually a chlorophyll molecule is a miniscule chemical factory equipped with “solar panels” that is responsible for producing oxygen for human beings and animals to breathe. All our food directly and indirectly comes from this tiny little factory, which makes this world a green world. Amazingly, carbon dioxide, which humans and animals breathe out after taking in oxygen, is essential in the process of photosynthesis. The plants need carbon dioxide, and we need oxygen and food to live.

What is not often realized, however, is that photosynthesis is a process that needs both day and night. During the day the “batteries” in the chlorophyll molecules are loaded with light energy in order to power the complex conversion of carbon dioxide and water with minerals into oxygen and carbohydrates during nighttime. It is not just day and night that photosynthesis needs but also a twenty-four-hour day, which exactly matches the rotation of the earth on its axis. In other words, without green, without chlorophyll, without a twenty-four-hour day, without day and night, and without the sun there is no oxygen to breathe, no food to eat, and no life on earth. On Day One of creation in Genesis 1:3, “God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” From the beginning God’s creation was in concert with the process of photosynthesis, including the twenty-four-hour day.

Photosynthesis also teaches us that plants cannot evolve into animals since plants breathe carbon dioxide and animals breathe oxygen.

Symbiosis

Symbiosis is close and often long-term interaction between two or more different biological species. The word symbiosis comes directly from ancient Greek and means “living together.”

One example of symbiosis is pollination. Without pollination we do not have reproduction of plants, since virtually every flower needs a pollinator. Pollinators include honeybees, flies, butterflies, moths, beetles, midges, ants, bats, hummingbirds, honeyeaters, and sunbirds. Other vertebrates such as monkeys, rodents, lizards, lemurs, and opossums have been recorded pollinating some plants. Honeybees collect pollen very selectively, with the pollen adhering to their rear legs. They are extremely effective insects for pollination. It is amazing that each plant produces nectar it does not need for itself but that meets the nutritional needs of the pollinator. Some pollinators are very specific to certain species of plants and have nozzles, feeding tubes, and proboscises designed especially for those plants. Some butterflies even have a proboscis that extends during feeding.

Pollination shows us that the pollinator and the plant must have existed at the same time since the plant cannot reproduce without the pollinator and the pollinator cannot exist without the nectar of the plant. Genesis 1:11 tells us, “And God said, let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.” It is interesting to note that the grasses, herbs, and trees were created first according to Genesis, before the pollinators were created three days later (Genesis 1:24).

Plant-Specific Mineral Pump

Plants have very specific mineral needs for healthy growth. Mineral deficiencies cause plant diseases, hinder growth, and even cause plants to die. Only about twenty years ago it was discovered that not only is mineral deficiency harmful for a plant but also an overload of minerals is just as harmful and will destroy a plant. Minerals needed by plants are divided into two categories: macroelements and microelements, or trace elements. Macroelements are nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and calcium. Microelements are magnesium, sulphur, boron, chlorine, copper, iron, manganese, zinc, molybdenum, and nickel.

Each plant species requires specific amounts of various minerals. The same minerals needed for lettuce, for example, might be deadly for cabbage, and vice versa. Plants have in their root system a kind of plumbing that is called xylem. Xylem transports the minerals, which are dissolved in water. Under the xylem is a root cap with a membrane that allows only the exact quantity of each and every mineral through, according to the needs of that specific plant. (Compare this to “after his kind” in Genesis 1:11.) The plant-specific mineral pump makes it impossible for one species of plant to evolve into another plant species.

The three biologic facts mentioned above—and there are many more—make evolution once and for all impossible. Without these processes, which evolution cannot account for, there is no oxygen to breathe and no food to eat—plain and simple. We are indeed divinely created beings as taught by the Bible, the only infallible source of truth we have.

Who Are We?

The Bible clearly tells us where we came from. This leads us to the next question: Who are we? Interestingly, this question is partly answered when we answer the first question. But there is more to the story.

In the book of Genesis we are told that God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden, which was somewhere in what is today the Middle East. Today the Garden of Eden is still in our collective memory, and the name Eden is everywhere associated with something good.

Adam was given the task to name all the animals and to take care of God’s creation at large. This indicates that the Creator must have given Adam and Eve a thorough understanding of His creation. Also, in Genesis we learn that the Creator was in contact with Adam and Eve on a daily basis, for there was communication and relationship.

Because of free will, it would not have been fair for the Creator to give man only good things to choose from. How can we have free will if the only things we can choose from are good? If there is only good and no bad, free will does not exist. Therefore, the Creator placed a tree in the garden and instructed Adam and Eve not to eat from the fruit of it. However, in the exercise of their free will they chose to eat from the tree anyway.

This deed was instigated by Lucifer, a fallen angel, who in pride had come into conflict with the Creator and taken a third of the angels with him in revolt. Lucifer manifested himself to Eve in the form of a serpent, a snake. It is interesting that the serpent has remained a prominent symbol. The native American Hopis practiced the snake dance, the ancient Celts had the snake in their symbols, and even today it is widely associated with fertility or a creative life force, poison, and medicine. The snake also is associated with the occult. In Africa there is a fear of snakes that goes beyond understanding. The serpent in the garden is also still in the collective memory of humanity.

Eating from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in defiance of God’s command meant separation from the Creator because He is holy and cannot be in the presence of sin. Sin literally means to miss the goal. It is that which is contrary to God’s nature.

With humanity’s fall into sin, however, also came the grace of God. Genesis 3:15 describes God’s salvation plan through the seed of the woman. This salvation plan began to manifest itself in the calling of Abraham to leave Ur in Mesopotamia and go to the land of Canaan, which is Israel today. It ultimately led to the coming of the Savior, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins on the cross and to be resurrected from death after three days.

So who are we? We are Adam and Eve’s children. We are beings created in God’s image. We are also fallen beings, but through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and faith in Him, we are saved from sin and restored to relationship with our Creator.

What Are We Doing Here?

What exactly is our purpose here on planet earth? The answer to this question is beautifully illustrated by John Bunyan (1628–1688) in his famous book The Pilgrim’s Progress. This book is about the journey we as believers in Christ make during our life on earth. There are various obstacles and challenges during our journey, but ultimately we will arrive at our destination.

When Jesus Christ was on earth He said that His kingdom is not of the world (John 18:36). Therefore, as those who have accepted God’s salvation through Jesus, our purpose is to live as Christ lived and to do what He has told us to do. We are not here to play around with religion but to be about God’s business, spreading the gospel, the good news, to the ends of the world and making followers (disciples) of Jesus (Matthew 28:19–20). Those who do not know Jesus Christ flounder about trying to find some purpose to their lives. They substitute their own goals for God’s purpose and never find true fulfillment in this life.

Where Are We Headed?

The last question concerns our final destination. John 3:16 indicates that it is the will of God that every human being be saved. However, we still have our free will, and God always respects that. For those who choose to believe in Christ there is salvation and eternal life, but for the unsaved there is eternal condemnation. Our faith in Christ, or lack of it, determines where we are headed. It is a not determined by our good deeds or living a good life. Salvation is by God’s grace received through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Where are we headed? There are only two possible destinations. We are either on the broad road to destruction or the narrow road to life eternal.

2

THE BROAD WAY

AND THE NARROW GATE

In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus spoke about a broad way on which many people are traveling and of a narrow way that leads through a small gate. We all once traveled on that broad way, which according to Jesus leads to destruction. To flee from this way one must go through the narrow gate. This narrow gate can be entered only by humbling ourselves. It has been said that humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. This indeed is what is required to go through the narrow gate and to make that different journey, a journey that leads to life.

The gate to this journey is narrow, not because only a few are capable of walking on that road but because few choose to walk it. Here we see both the grace and truth of God. He graciously makes the narrow way available to all who will choose it. But there is only one truth that leads to eternal life. The broad way allows for many so-called “truths,” but they lead to eternal destruction. The truth that leads to life is Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

Let’s be honest about that broad way. You start on that road by rejecting the Creator and His revealed way to life. This has dire consequences because now you are on your own. You are not anchored in God, and your whole life depends on your own wisdom and your own effort. As you continue on this road, you become vulnerable to many ideas and beliefs the world offers.

Most people are on this broad way, and therefore most are very susceptible to the deception of the world and the devil. This explains how entire societies, even those with a Judeo-Christian background that recognized the difference between good and evil, can be drawn into evil and extreme violence. The Second World War and the Holocaust could never have taken place if the majority of the German people had not bought into the false doctrine of Hitler and the Nazis. Only a few people, like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Niemὄller, warned the German people of the evil of Nazism. Even the churches were “politically correct” about what was happening in German society.

Racism has no place in creation because the Bible teaches we are all related. We are all created in God.s image and equal under God.s law, including unborn children. Yet evolution dominates the thinking of the world, and it does not make all people equal. It gives us the idea of .survival of the fittest.. Slavery, abortion, and unter- and übermenschen are a few of the consequences of the evolutionary conclusion that human life has no intrinsic value.

Even modern technology that has very positive short-term results can be destructive in the long term if the truth of God does not guide its use. Consider the green revolution, which came about as an idea to feed the world. A process was launched to industrialize food production with the aim of dramatically increasing the availability of food. On the surface this looked like a great development. Today our world has been totally changed by it.

An agrarian geneticist, Nazarene Stampelli, initiated the idea of the green revolution in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1970 Norman Borlang, “the father of the green revolution,” received the Nobel Prize for work that saved more than a billion people from starvation. This, of course, was a very good development. But when you look at the end result of this revolution, it gets scary. Half of the world’s population moved from the rural areas into the cities because they were not able to compete with big companies and their large investments. Much fertile soil was depleted of minerals and organic material, and huge portions of virgin forests were logged. Spraying of chemicals killed wildlife on a huge scale, and seeds disappeared and can no longer be reproduced by farmers themselves. Large multinationals are in control of seed production, chemical fertilizer, and pesticides. Other large companies possess patent-protected seeds and chemicals, and almost every farmer worldwide depends on these and other large corporations in order to be able to produce food. GMO (genetically modified organism) seeds are another dangerous development. They pollute non-GMO agricultural fields, and we can only hope our health is not endangered by this. Then we have the packaging industry, which goes along with the industrialization of food production with the result that wherever we go we are confronted with plastic bottles, bags, and other litter. There are huge islands of plastic in the oceans, and it is getting worse and worse.

Do not these things reflect the broad way that leads to destruction? What would have happened if most people had taken the narrow way and followed the rules on that road through the narrow gate? How different our world would be today if people accepted God’s gracious offer and followed the truth rather than stumble about on the broad way, which is absent of truth and leads to eternal destruction.

Excursus: Healthy, Sustainable Food Production

Is there a way back to growing healthy food in a sustainable way? Yes, there is. There are two new methods that take us in that direction.

Aquaponics is a combination of fish farming and hydroponics. Hydroponics is a soilless culture in a growing medium fed with mineral nutrient solutions in water. Both cultures have disadvantages on their own, but combined, they offer many advantages. Fish farming needs much clean water, and hydroponics also needs much water and soluble fertilizer. In combination, these two cultures can feed the plants with the fish water through the hydroponics system, while the water is cleaned by the plants and ready to be recycled to the fish tanks again. It is much more sustainable than conventional growing practices. Effluents, which accumulate in the fish water, increase toxicity for fish. So this water from the fish ponds is led to the hydroponics growing system, and the by-products are broken down by nitrogen-fixing bacteria and filtered out by the plants as vital nutrition. The water that comes back from the hydroponic system to the fish ponds is clean once more, and the cycle starts again.

Another method is called “Back to Eden.” This is based on the idea that in the natural realm everything on earth is covered. We humans have skin to protect us and make us look beautiful. The animals have their skin or hide, and the earth itself, except for some deserts, is naturally covered with grass, shrubs, and trees. Even the taiga in Siberia is covered with a kind of moss.

The Back-to-Eden method does not work the soil. There is no plowing or tilling the soil. Therefore, machines for those purposes are not needed. What is needed is a thick layer of compost on top of the soil and wood chips (this is from a machine). The wood chips are put on top of the compost. Chickens can also be involved in the process, as I will explain. The compost and the wood chips are able to retain most if not all of the rainwater. Little if any irrigation is needed. The compost is where the seeds or plants are planted. The wood chips protect the soil from wind and store rainwater, keeping the soil from drying out. They slowly start to decompose, making available nutrients for the plants.

After a year or a year and a half, soil prepared this way creates a growing condition where the plants, funguses, microbes, and rainworms can play their vital role once again. This is an environment the plants really like, and they grow as if they were in Eden. There is usually always enough moisture for the plants to grow, not much of a weed problem, plenty of nutrients from the wood chips and from chicken manure, no extreme fluctuations in the soil temperature, and loose soil with enough aeration. All the waste from the garden is fed to the chickens, and the chickens give back a perfect contribution to form a mix of soil and manure for this growing system. Chickens are very good at digging the soil and mixing it all the time. Now the soil is like your bank; it starts to pay off.

Of course, what I have described above is not the whole solution. It is only a start to rethink what we are doing against God’s design of nature.

Can we produce enough food for the world’s population, or are there simply too many people on earth? Whatever food shortages there are have nothing to do with too many people on earth; rather, they are caused by our neglect of how nature is designed and how we live together—against God’s rules. My experience is that even on a small plot of land, even when the soil is not the best you can grow a lot of good quality food. When you do not spray pesticides, you may lose 20 percent of your produce at the maximum. This is the maximum; it may be even less. And this is in a disturbed environment, after the green revolution.

We need to save seeds from the past as much as possible and use them again. These seeds are very important for us since they can make us independent. They reproduce over and over again, and many times the taste and quality in nutritional value are superior. And we do not need to pay for it each year or season. Really, we need not worry about a shortage of food if we try to copy the design of nature. God is a God of abundance. We see it everywhere in nature. We just need to follow His rules.

Is recovery possible? Nature is designed in such a way that from the moment we follow God’s rules, a full recovery will appear before our eyes. Nature is designed and created by God, and it is God who keeps it all together. It is God and God alone who gives the blessing. And He does this with great pleasure, as long as we follow His directions. His loving directions are always in our own interest.

3

THE TRUTH

ABOUT TRUTH

 

The Oxford Dictionary gives the following definition of truth: “That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.”1

The Old Testament identifies truth with personal veracity and historical factuality. In the Psalms truth is described as a fundamental characteristic of God.

In the New Testament Jesus describes Himself as the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). And in John 8:32 He tells us that truth is the way to freedom: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (NIV).

According to the Bible, ultimate truth is found only in Jesus, who is the truth and will set us free. Those who are on the narrow road understand this. But the vast majority of humanity is on the broad way to destruction. And those on the broad way have a very different definition of truth than what the Bible teaches. In fact, as the thinking of the broad way continues to dominate our world, the very concept of truth is disappearing from society and even from science, as facts give way to feelings and opinions. I would like to offer two very relevant examples of this erosion of truth in our world.

First, consider “global warming.” The concern over this phenomenon is everywhere, and it is affecting our daily lives as more and more regulations, laws, and taxes are enacted to combat it. The pope, politicians, and presidents are telling us this is the single biggest problem mankind is facing today. Carbon dioxide (CO2) has become the great enemy of mankind. But is this true?

Here are the facts. CO2 makes up approximately 0.04% of the atmosphere. The output of CO 2 is absorbed by the oceans (26%), by plants and trees (28%), and in the atmosphere (46%). The absorption of CO2 by the oceans, plants, and trees is returning oxygen through the process of photosynthesis, as described in chapter 1 of this book.

However, plants grow much faster, and at an optimal rate, with 300% (1000 ppm) more CO 2! In hothouses and plastic tunnels, growers are using special equipment to increase the content of CO2 in the air as a fertilizer.

In other words, the Creator has designed nature in such a way that there is automatic and perfect balance. When the CO2 content in the air rises, it results in better growth of plant and algae in the oceans (not the kind of algae that depletes oxygen but that produces oxygen) and thus creates more oxygen.

Concern over the pollution of our environment is legitimate, but it does not mean we can abandon the truth. Because those on the broad way ignore God’s truth, they fail to see the truth God’s creation teaches us.

Now consider a second example of how the truth is denied in modern society. Let us begin by looking back to an incident in the eighteenth century. Frederick the Great (1712–1786) was king of Prussia and a great reformer. He reigned for more than forty years. He once asked a visitor for one irrefutable proof of the existence of God. After thinking about it for a moment, his guest answered, “Yes, your Majesty: the Jews.”2

If he were still living today, I wonder how Frederick the Great would have reacted to the recent decision of UNESCO. The World Heritage Center of the United Nations declared there is no Jewish heritage in Jerusalem. On top of that, the Palestinian Authority now lays claims to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Are we living in la-la land? How much farther will we sink into such denial of that which is evident?

The Jews are, in fact, a unique people. In spite of being less than 1 percent of the world’s population, there is not a people on earth with so much history. The roots of the Jewish people go back more than forty centuries to Abraham. All the great empires from the past are long gone, but the Jews are still the same people, in spite of being dispersed for almost two thousand years. In AD 70 the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the temple and killed thousands of Jews. Many of those who survived left Israel. Some sixty-six years later the Romans put down a Jewish revolt, killing many more Jews and sending others into exile. Many mark this as the beginning of the modern diaspora.

There has never been a people so oppressed as the Jewish people. We see it recorded in the Bible with Pharaoh in Exodus, with Haman in the book of Esther, with the Philistines in the books of Samuel, and on and on. Werner Keller wrote a book about the diaspora and the oppression of the Jews during all those two thousand years.3 It is an astonishing account. This book is dedicated to all who have the truth at heart.

Another book, written by Arthur D. Morse, is titled While Six Million Died_.4 This book presents countless cases of abuse and oppression of the Jews, including the account of the German ship _St. Louis. This ship departed from Hamburg on May 13, 1939, with 936 passengers, 930 of whom were Jewish refugees who had managed to pay the passage fee, including a fee for return to Hamburg in case no country was prepared to give them asylum. This, in fact, proved to be the case. The ship was directed to Cuba, and the passengers had visas for entering the United States. In Cuba they had to wait for approval to enter the United States because the quota of the allowed (small) number of Jews was surpassed. However, Cuba denied access, as did the United States and Canada. After many efforts to avoid returning to Hamburg, on June 12, 1939, the Netherlands announced it was prepared to allow 194 refugees into the country. Belgium, the United Kingdom, and France were prepared to allow the rest of the Jewish refugees into their countries. All praise to the captain of the St. Louis, who was fully committed to his passengers. Many of these people did not survive the war and the Holocaust.

Another book I recommend is Shield of David, written by Yigal Allon.5 This book describes the history of Israel’s armed forces in modern times and the War of Independence in 1948, when a small number of Jews with few and sometimes handmade weapons had to fight against five regular and fully equipped Arab armies. Against all odds, Israel prevailed then, as well as in the Six-Day War in 1967. True miracles!

While Israel is not without fault, the hatred for the Jewish people that is so prevalent among those on the broad way blinds them to what is obvious to all. Instead of acknowledging the truth, they make the Jews out to be the oppressors! They are truly incapable of distinguishing between good and evil.

4

CONSCIENCE, GOOD,

AND EVIL

The Conscience

Conscience is an awareness of the moral goodness or evil of one’s conduct or thoughts or character. It is actually a difficult word to define. This is because our conscience belongs to the spiritual realm and is not something we can easily grasp.

The Bible speaks frequently about the conscience.

• Isaiah 30:21: “And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left.”

• Proverbs 20:27: “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly.”

• Romans 2:14–15: “The Gentiles . . . shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.”

The Bible tells us much more than this. There are many other texts about the conscience, but we can already see in these few verses some key words and phrases: a word, spirit, inward parts, written in their hearts. These verses show us that our conscience comes from God.

If we look back to Genesis after Adam and Eve had eaten from the forbidden tree, we find that the untested innocence of man was gone. Adam and Eve now were afraid to see God. God had to seek them out and to make coats of skins to clothe them (Genesis 3:21). God gave Adam and Eve their consciences since they now lived in a world of sin, a world where God’s commandments were violated. In this new world Adam and Eve had to be informed continually about good and evil and the need to obey God, and the conscience would play an important role in that. While people can violate their consciences and make them dull through continual sin (Titus 1:15), they still possess the consciences God gave them, and when they listen to their consciences, they condemn their sin.

What Is Sin?

But what exactly is sin? Let us consider an illustration from sports. Soccer, for example, has a specific set of rules. In a soccer match the two teams must play according to the rules, which are enforced by the referee. If one team kicks the ball outside the line of the field, it loses the ball to the other team. At that moment the other team takes control of the ball.

We already have seen that God gave Adam and Eve a commandment. When they disobeyed that commandment by eating from the tree, they gave “the other party”—Satan—a certain degree of control, or influence, over them.

To sin is to do something that causes us to move away from God’s purpose and outside His will. The word sin in New Testament Greek is hamartia, which means to miss the mark or the target. According to the Bible, we are all sinners; we all miss the mark of God’s holy standard.

God’s Plan to Deal with Sin

God’s law is so perfect that we simply cannot within ourselves live up to that standard. Therefore, after sin came into the human race, God Himself had to intervene to redeem us and restore us to a relationship with Him. He did this by sending His Son to live perfectly according to God’s standard and pay the penalty for our sin on the cross. By doing that, God made a legal step, according to His perfect standard, to free us from sin and its penalty of death, which entered humanity when Adam and Eve disobeyed His commandment and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

This, of course, is a truly awesome deed of God. The message that He has provided deliverance from sin is rightly called “the good news,” or “the gospel.” It is the best news we could ever hear. This work of God makes biblical Christianity totally different from all other religions. Apart from the Christian faith, there is not a single religion in which God intervenes and pays for sin Himself.

The coming of Jesus Christ to complete this work of redemption required significant “interference” in human affairs by God in terms of creating a people for Himself and preparing them—and the world—for the coming Savior. This chosen people is today known as the Jewish people. While God’s plan of redemption was revealed in part immediately (Genesis 3:15), it began to take shape historically when God called Abraham in Genesis 12:1–3: “Now the Lord had said unto Abram. Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 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.” The last words of this text, “all families of the earth [shall] be blessed,” points to God’s redemption plan of Jesus’s dying on the cross for us. This plan was first mentioned immediately after the first sin, when God referred both to the “woman” (Israel) and “her seed” (the seed of the woman, Yeshua, Jesus).

Now why God did choose to do things that way? Could He not have just sent His Son straightaway and dealt with sin once and for all? Why did He first choose Abram (later named Abraham) and make a covenant with him and his descendants (Genesis 15), from whom His Son would come centuries later?

To understand why the covenant with Abraham had to precede the work of redemption in Jesus, we need to understand more about sin and evil. The serpent in Genesis was possessed by Satan in order to deceive Adam and Eve. In John 8:44 Jesus sharply addresses His opponents and in so doing gives a description of Satan, or the devil: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” This is important information because it tells us that Satan’s goal is to destroy human beings. He appears as a different being (like the serpent) than who he really is. He is the master of deception and a liar. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 Paul describes Satan as “the god of this world.” Through the sin of Adam and Eve, Satan obtained certain jurisdiction over us human beings. In the days of Abraham, like today, the “god of this world” was a major influence on the ideas, opinions, goals, hopes, and views of the majority of people.

Even before Abraham, sin had such an impact on the human race that Genesis 6:2 says the seed of man became mingled with the seed of fallen angels. This situation, of course, was unacceptable, for the Redeemer would never be able to come into the world to save us from sin if sin were genetically part of our being. Only eight people were unaffected by this: Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth and their wives. Genesis 6:11–12 says, “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt: for all flesh, had corrupted his way upon the earth.”

This was so serious that God instituted an amazing plan. He told Noah to build the ark, a large boat, and gave him the necessary dimensions, the type of wood to use, and further instructions on how to build and prepare the ark. Then came the flood, and all life on earth was destroyed except for the eight people and the representative animal and bird species preserved on the ark. Fish and water mammals could survive since they were not in the same way affected by God’s judgment.

After the flood, sin became a major problem again with the building of the tower of Babel (Genesis 11). God had to confuse the one language everyone spoke in those days and make them speak all kinds of different languages in order to scatter them all over the world. The Bible does not explain exactly what the tower of Babel was, but in Genesis 9:1, after the flood, God commanded Noah and his family to multiply and replenish the earth. In Genesis 11:4 we read that man did the exact opposite by building a great city and the tower, with its top meant to reach to heaven. They did not intend to replenish the world but rather determined to stay together in one great city, Babel. There may have been more to the tower than this, but we can only guess since the Bible does not give more information. However, this rebellious act was serious enough for God to come down, inspect it, and make sure they could not continue building. He did this by changing their language into many different languages. As a result of this, they were scattered over all the earth.

At this point in the biblical narrative, God called Abram (Abraham) to move to Canaan, where he would start a new people, the covenant people, the Hebrews. Abraham and Sarah did not have children of their own. The two were old already, and it was not possible by natural means for Sarah to get pregnant; yet God promised the couple a son. When that son was not born after many more years, however, the two decided to “help” God with that promise.

Abraham and Sarah arranged for Hagar, a servant of Sarah, to become pregnant by Abraham and bear a son, Ishmael. This was not God’s plan. Only later, after Ishmael was born, did Sarah miraculously become pregnant with Isaac. God then tested Abraham, telling him to offer his miraculously born son on an altar before God. God did not let this happen, of course; it was only a test and a picture of what God planned to do later in offering up His own Son, Jesus, on the cross.

The Hebrews, descendants of Abraham, went through various trials. Jacob lost his son Joseph and considered him dead. Then a drought came to the land, and Jacob’s sons had to go to Egypt to buy food to survive. Later it became evident that Joseph was still alive and living in Egypt. In fact, God had miraculously given Joseph a position second only to the pharaoh of Egypt so that through Joseph God could save the Hebrew people. Actually, God gave Joseph the wisdom to save enough food for two peoples, the Hebrews and the Egyptians, during seven years of famine. This was another picture that pointed to the future redemption of Jesus.

Now the Hebrews settled in Egypt and became a great nation there, but their time in Egypt eventually ended in slavery under a later pharaoh who did not know Joseph. This gave the Hebrews (and humankind) a reality check concerning bondage by evil powers.

God raised up Moses to set His people free from slavery. They wandered through the desert for forty years and learned about God’s providence and God’s care for them. They learned about God’s standards through the law He gave to Moses. They learned as a people how God wanted them to live together as a nation. They learned how to worship God in the tabernacle, and they learned about God’s salvation plan. Everything pointed to Jesus and what He would do to save us all from sin.

After those forty years, the Israelite people conquered the promised land with God’s help. This was not an easy task since once again there were giants in Canaan, Goliaths with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. The mingling of genetic material from fallen angels was once again something God had to deal with, but not now with a second flood, for God had promised never to bring such a worldwide flood again, and the rainbow was His signature to that promise. Rather, He would accomplish His purposes through His covenant people, the Hebrews.

Later came King David. God loved David, and David loved God and sought God’s will and plan, in spite of his being a sinner himself. Solomon followed David as king, and he was very wise. Solomon built the temple, and God’s shekinah glory filled it. After Solomon came a king who refused to listen to his older advisers, and as a result Israel split into two nations, Israel in the north and Judah in the south. We read about a number of kings in both the southern and northern kingdoms, with some pleasing God but most not pleasing Him. The evil kings and their followers allowed Satan to deceive them into making pagan offerings and honoring false gods. It even reached the point that people offered their firstborn children in the fire to the god called Moloch.

This, of course, was not an environment in which Jesus, the Savior, could be born. By God’s providence, it was under the ruling power of the Roman Empire that Israel was ideally prepared for the coming of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, the Son of God. In spite of being occupied by the Romans, the Jewish people could practice their religion. The temple functioned according to God’s plan, and the covenant people were not under the influence of a wicked Hebrew king. The Son of God grew up in an environment perfectly suited for the fulfillment of God’s work of redemption. He lived a sinless life completely according to the Father’s will and under the law of Moses. Through Him God was able to deal with sin once and forever!

Jesus was rejected by the Jewish religious leadership of that day. They expected and desired only a Messiah who would free them from the Romans, not a Redeemer for mankind. They turned Him over to Romans, who crucified Him, but He was raised from death after three days—and our future, our invitation to live forever with God, was a done deal!

Now salvation is available to every member of the human race if and when we give acknowledgment to this great work of God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. The conflict Jesus had with Israel’s religious leaders of that time gave Jesus the opportunity to truly reveal God’s redemption plan, not merely what man thought about it.

This is all amazing! This is God at work!

This plan of God, worked out through centuries of Israel’s history, is reviewed in greater detail in chapters 6–12. It is important to keep this broad perspective in mind, however, as we consider sin and God’s remedy for it.

The Deception of Sin

Yes, in Christ God has provided deliverance from sin. But sin itself continues unabated, and its power is seen in the deception it brings. Sin leads people to reject the existence of God, to accept the unacceptable, and to turn the truth on its head.

It is not uncommon for people to argue that they cannot believe in God because of all the evil in the world. Ravi Zacharias, one of the finest and brightest Christian apologists today, answers this argument quite simply. He acknowledges, of course, that there is evil in this world but then says that if there is evil, there must be good. And if there is good and evil, there must be a moral law by which to judge between good and evil. If there is a moral law, there must be a moral lawgiver. And this moral lawgiver points to God.8 The logic is simple and irrefutable, yet sin itself drives people to deny it.

Sin also leads people to accept, or at least ignore, that which God condemns. The Armenian Genocide began in 1915. More than one million Christian Armenians were murdered. Men, women, children, and babies were not only murdered but also tortured to death. It was unspeakable violence against human life. But even to the present day, this atrocity is denied by the perpetrators, the Turks. It is even illegal in today’s Turkey to speak about it, or you could end up in jail. This is an example of how evil can take control over those who give in to the power of sin. In spite of the staggering evidence, this genocide against the Armenian people is largely unrecognized around the world. I first learned about it when I was in Jerusalem. The Jews know about it. Hitler knew about it as well, and he mentioned this human catastrophe to make the point that nobody really cares.

This is evil in its most deadly form. It ignores or justifies unwarranted violence against human life. It deceives people by telling them that violence is acceptable for the sake of a “good” cause. It leads many to deny the Shoah, or Holocaust, the destruction of two-thirds of the European Jews, and it urges them to kill the rest of the Jews.

Satan is not amused by God’s reestablishing His chosen people Israel in one day in 1948. The nation’s presence affirms the Bible’s teaching and God’s eternal plan. Satan hates Israel, and his followers adopt the same attitude. Welcome to the world of deception, the world of mass media in the hands of clever deceivers, telling us that good is evil and evil is good.

My fellow human beings, all of us are created by God in His image. He loves us and has provided redemption for us through His beloved Son, who in obedience to His Father took our punishment upon Himself. Do not follow deception. Follow God’s message of redemption, and start to feel how good it is to be in the presence of the Lord God and to thank Him for each and every day. He cares for us, He wants a relationship with us, and He does not want anyone lost in sin.

5

HUMAN REBELLION

 

In Genesis 3:5 the serpent told Eve that by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that was in the midst of the garden, she and her husband would “be as gods.” This, of course, was a lie and the very opposite of what God had warned would result from eating the fruit—namely, death. Physical death reached a climax with the great flood, when only eight people in all the world were saved in the ark: Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth and their wives. There could be no clearer example that “walking on the broad way” leads to destruction.

The rebellion that began in Eden did not end with the flood. The population growth after the flood was accompanied by growing human rebellion against God.

Globalism, the effort to create a one-world government, is not a new phenomenon. The idea of a one-world government originated in ancient times. After the great flood, a grandson of Ham, Nimrod, established a kingdom in Mesopotamia. The chief city of his kingdom was called “Babel” (Genesis 10:8–10),and at that time “the whole world was of one language, and of one speech” (Genesis 11:1). The people built a great tower there in defiance of God, and God came down from heaven and confounded their language (Genesis 11:7–8). The result of this confusion was that the people were scattered over the whole world and the tower was never completed.

With this divine intervention, a one-world government was destroyed for the time being. Physically the completion of the tower was avoided, but spiritually this rebellion against God continued and is alive today. Interestingly, in 1563 Pieter Brueghel painted this unfinished tower, and today the European Union parliament building in Strasbourg, France, bears a striking resemblance to the building in Brueghel’s painting.

The broad road to destruction is indeed broad. It encompasses nations and empires throughout history that have sought to rule the world. This was not a surprise to God, for He foretold it in the book of Daniel.

In the sixth century BC, Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler of the Babylonian Empire, conquered Jerusalem and took many Jews into exile in Babylon. One of these Jewish exiles was Daniel. Daniel was a God-fearing man, and God gave him much knowledge and understanding (Daniel 1:17). When Nebuchadnezzar had a troubling dream, he asked the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and Chaldeans to interpret the dream, but he would not tell them what he had dreamed. Nobody was able to tell the king his dream or interpret it, and in anger the king ordered them all to be killed. The captain of the king’s guards knew Daniel well, however, and permitted Daniel to approach the king with the promise that he would interpret Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. After Daniel asked prayer from his close Jewish friends and fasted, God honored Daniel by giving him knowledge of the dream and the interpretation of it.

The dream was about a great image with a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet of part iron and part clay. In the king’s dream a great stone struck the feet of the image, destroying them and causing the entire image to crumble into pieces.

Daniel said the four parts of the image represented four kingdoms. The golden head represented the then-current Babylonian Empire (606–539 BC); the silver chest and arms represented the Medo-Persia Empire that followed (539–331 BC); the bronze belly and thighs represented the Greco-Macedonian Empire established under Alexander the Great (331–168 BC); the legs of iron represented the Roman Empire, which began in 27 BC, of which the western part lasted until AD 395 and the eastern part (Byzantine) until AD 1453.

The last part of the great image were the ten toes, which were a mix of iron and clay. They represented the resurrected Roman Empire, which is still to come. It is not only prophesied by Daniel but also described by John in Revelation. While this empire is a resurrection of the Roman Empire that the Antichrist will rule in the near future, the nations of which that empire will consist have existed since right after the fall of the western Roman Empire in 395. These are the ten nations, of which three have disappeared: The Saxons became the United Kingdom; the Franks became France; the Alamanni became Germany; the Visigoths became Spain; the Suevi became Portugal; the Lombards became Italy; the Burgundians became Switzerland; the Heruli disappeared in 495; the Vandals disappeared in 533; and the Ostrogoths disappeared in 538.

The kingdoms Daniel foresaw encompass all of human history, even to the end times. They represent the attempts of man to rule as sovereign over the earth and are a reflection of the rebellion at Babel. That rebellion continues and will continue until Christ comes. Rebellion is common to unsaved humanity. Yet the solution to this human malady was introduced centuries ago.

After God’s intervention at Babel, God called Abraham to depart from Mesopotamia and go to the land of Canaan. This marked the historic beginning of God’s redemption plan and the way of escape for humanity through the narrow gate. It also was the start of God’s full manifestation of His grace for all humanity.

Part 2

 

THE PLAN OF

GOD’S GRACE IN

BIBLICAL HISTORY

 

6

GOD’S WAY TO THE

NARROW GATE

(GENESIS 12–19)

With this chapter we begin recounting the progression of God’s plan through history to the ultimate revelation of Jesus Christ and the narrow gate that leads to life. We will trace the long course of biblical history as God worked through individuals and the nation of Israel to teach His people the truth and prepare them for the coming of the Savior.

In retelling the story, I summarize what the Bible recounts. I also make use of the work of the famous Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, whose Antiquities of the Jews is a treasure of very detailed Jewish history and traditions. While his work lacks the divine inspiration of the Scriptures, it is helpful to our understanding of the cultural background of the Bible and the traditional stories with which people of his time were familiar.9

In Genesis 12:1 God called Abram and told him to leave Mesopotamia and go to Canaan. Abram was seventy-five years old when he was called by God. In those days Mesopotamia was very much influenced by pagan religion, and Josephus says Abram, a very wise man who had understanding of the universe and how it operates, started to teach the people in his community the truth about the Creator and creation and was very convincing.

In obedience to God, Abram took his family and servants, a whole clan of people, and their domestic animals from Ur to Shechem in the land of Canaan. Abram had no children by his wife Sarai, but his nephew Lot accompanied him. When Abram arrived, God appeared to him and promised that this land would be given to his descendants. Abram built an altar there and gave offerings to God.

From there he went to the east of Bethel, where he built another altar and again made offerings to God. From there he went farther south. Then when there was famine in the land he went to Egypt, where he could enjoy abundance of food and pasture for the animals.

Abram was afraid the Egyptians would see how beautiful Sarai was and would kill him and take her for themselves. So when they inquired about her, Abram told them Sarai was his sister (this was true because she was the daughter of his father, though not of his mother). Sarai was, in fact, taken before Pharaoh, who took her into his house. From that moment many plagues came upon the house of Pharaoh, and he called for Abram to speak with him about Sarai. Abram told Pharaoh the truth, and Pharaoh gave Sarai back to Abram. Flavius Josephus further explained that nothing happened with Sarai during her stay with Pharaoh aside from Pharaoh planning an official wedding with her.

This whole episode gave Abram the opportunity to find out about the Egyptians’ knowledge and habits. Josephus goes on to say that Abram became a very respected orator and could convince the Egyptians in each and every subject they discussed. In fact, he says Abram taught them astronomy and mathematics, and this knowledge later also came to be known by the Greeks.

Hereafter Abram, along with Sarai and all the family members, including Lot and all the servants, left Egypt with Abram’s cattle, gold, and silver and settled again near Bethel, the place where he had built the second altar for God. Like Abram, Lot also had many flocks, herds, and tents. This was too much for the land to bear, so Abram and Lot agreed to separate from each other. Abram gave Lot the first choice, and he chose to move to the Jordan valley, a well-watered area with abundance of grass. This was the area of Sodom and Gomorrah, and Genesis 13 tells us the inhabitants of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and great sinners.

In time, four Mesopotamian kings brought Sodom and Gomorrah and three other cities under their rule. After twelve years, however, Sodom and Gomorrah and their allies rebelled against their masters. The result of this was a battle in which many Sodomites were killed and many others were taken as prisoners of war. Lot was among this latter group.

When Abram heard about the fate of Lot, he decided to try to rescue him. From among his own people he recruited 318 men. In spite of the small number, Abram managed to free Lot and the Sodomites from their captors, attacking by night and defeating the Mesopotamian kings.

On his way back after freeing the captives, Abram was met by the king of Sodom at the valley of Shaveh, which is called the king’s dale. Melchizedek, king of Salem, also came out with bread and wine for all to eat and drink. Everybody recognized Melchizedek as a righteous king, but he was also the priest of the highest God (Genesis 14:18). Melchizedek blessed Abram and gave honor to God for his victory. Abram gave Melchizedek one-tenth of what he had captured from the defeated kings. The king of the Sodomites wanted Abram to keep the rest of what he had captured, but Abram refused to make any profit out of this. He gave back to the king of Sodom all that he had recovered.

The righteous deeds of Abram were not unnoticed by God, and in a vision God again promised him great prosperity. In his answer to this reaffirmation, Abram asked God how he could ever enjoy his prosperity without having his own son. God responded by assuring Abram that he would have a son and many descendants from that son—as many as the stars of heaven. Abram believed the Lord, and his faith was counted as righteousness.

At God’s instruction Abram sacrificed a three-year-old calf, a three-year-old goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon. Abram then fell into a deep sleep, and God visited him again in a dream and told him that his son’s descendants would go into captivity for four hundred years in Egypt but that after that four hundred years they would be set free by God, coming out with great substance (Genesis 15:14).

After being in the land for ten years, Abram and Sarai were troubled that Sarai was still not pregnant. So they decided to “help” God. Sarai proposed to bring forth a son through her maid, the Egyptian Hagar. She gave Hagar to Abram to be his wife, and he lay down with her, and she became pregnant.

While still pregnant, Hagar started to behave with contempt toward Sarai, and there was much tension between the two. When Abram allowed Sarai to punish Hagar for her behavior, Hagar fled into the desert. But the angel of the Lord intervened and commanded her to return to Sarai and promised her that her son would be the father of a multitude of people. The heavenly messenger also told her to call her son Ishmael. He said Ishmael would be a wild man, his hand would be against every man, and he would dwell in the presence of all his brethren. Hagar obeyed the messenger of God and returned to Sarai. Shortly after this, Hagar bore Abram Ishmael, which means “heard by God.” Abram was eighty-six years old when Ishmael was born.

When Abram was nighty-nine years old, God appeared to him again and announced that Sarai would become pregnant with a son and that this son should be named Isaac. The Lord promised that from Abram would come nations and kings. He promised to give the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession to Abram and his descendants. And God affirmed His covenant with Abram and Isaac and all generations after him. The Lord would be their God.

God also renamed Abram (“noble father”) Abraham (“father of many”), and He renamed Sarai (“princess”) Sarah (“royal princess”). The Lord told Abraham, “Keep my covenant, therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations” (Genesis 17:9). As a token of the everlasting covenant, and in order to avoid mingling with other nations, God also commanded that Abraham’s descendants were to becircumcised on the eighth day after birth.

Abraham asked God what would happen with Ishmael, and God answered that he would live long and become the father of princes and be a great nation. Abraham thanked God for that answer and immediately circumcised himself and all the male members of the clan, including Ishmael, who was thirteen years of age.

By this time the behavior of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah had grown intolerable. They were prosperous but had become very proud. They had no respect for God, and they seemed to have forgotten about the blessings Abraham had bestowed upon them by saving them from their enemies. They were violent against strangers and delighted in the most perverse behavior. As a result, God decided to destroy them and their cities.

After God’s decision to destroy Sodom, three men appeared to Abraham while he was sitting in his tent door in the heat of the day. He recognized them as strangers and stood up and welcomed them warmly and invited them to join him for a meal. While they appeared as men, two of these persons were angels. The other we learn later was the Lord Himself. These three accepted the invitation, and Abraham started preparations for the meal. During that meal they inquired about Sarah, and then one of them said Sarah would bear a son within a year. Sarah, who was in the tent, heard this and quietly laughed to herself. She was convinced she could never be pregnant since she was nearly ninety years old and Abraham almost a hundred years old.

The three visitors had come to announce the pregnancy of Sarah, but they had also come to inform Abraham of the doom of Sodom and Gomorrah. In fact, the two angels would go on to Sodom and Gomorrah on a special mission. When Abraham heard about this, he was very sad and asked God if the good people would be destroyed together with the bad. He pleaded with the Lord to save Sodom if there were fifty righteous people found there. The Lord said that if He could find even ten righteous people, He would not destroy the cities. Abraham was silent. As we learn from the story, there were not even ten righteous people in those cities.

When the two angels appeared in Sodom, Lot welcomed them with warm hospitality. The Sodomites, however, noticed these two come in and desired to do them harm. Lot desperately tried to protect the two angels and even went so far as to offer his two daughters to the Sodomites to pour out their lust on them instead. This was to no avail, and the Sodomites became more violent by the minute. God then struck them with blindness so that they could not find the entrance to the building. The two angels urged Lot, his wife, and his two daughters to leave the city to escape the coming destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and warned them not to look back on the cities. During their flight, however, Lot’s wife became curious and wanted to see the destruction behind her. She looked back and instantly was transformed into a pillar of salt.

Lot and his daughters sought refuge in a cave in the mountains. But fearing they would be childless, Lot’s two daughters worked out a plan to become pregnant from Lot without his knowing it. They gave him wine to drink and lay down with him. As a result, the oldest daughter bore a son and named him Moab, which means “from the father.” The second daughter bore a son and named him Ben–ammi, which means “son of my people.” The descendants of the two sons were the Moabites and the Ammonites. The name of the Ammonites is preserved in the name of the capital city of Jordan today: Amman.

The early history of Abraham’s life in Canaan reveals God’s grace and mercy in the lives of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, and Lot. It also highlights the growing, though imperfect, faith of Abraham. Grace and faith were central elements in God’s developing plan of redemption.

7

THE BIRTH OF THE

HEBREW PEOPLE

(GENESIS 20–36)

Ishmael Sent Away

It seems that at first Sarah was content with Ishmael, the son of Hagar, and treated him well. But things changed after Isaac was born. Josephus explains that Sarah did not want Isaac to grow up with Ishmael and was afraid of what would happen after Abraham passed away because Ishmael was considerably older than Isaac. Sarah began to speak with Abraham about her concern, but Abraham was not prepared to consider sending Hagar and Ishmael away.

The Bible tells us Sarah was distressed by Ishmael’s mocking of Isaac and asked Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. Abraham was reluctant but agreed to do so after the Lord told him to do what his wife asked and assured him that Ishmael would be blessed. Abraham gave Hagar bread and water and sent her and her son away.

In the heat of the day when the water was gone, Hagar became desperate and laid Ishmael under a bush. She did not want to see Ishmael die before her eyes, so she went on for a short distance and sat down. Then the angel of God spoke to her from heaven and showed her a water well close by. The angel assured Hagar that God would make a great nation of her son. This lifted her spirit, and she went on with great courage. God indeed blessed the child, and he grew up in the wilderness.

The Test of Abraham

Abraham was very fond of Isaac, his only son with Sarah, the son who was given by God through an amazing miracle. Josephus recounts the Jewish tradition that Isaac contributed much to the affection of his parents for him with his nice personality, his goodness, his respect for his parents, and his zealous service to God. The historian says Abraham reckoned it as his greatest fortune that when he passed away he would be able to leave Isaac behind in a safe and secure condition.

God, however, wanted to test Abraham’s faith and obedience to Him. He spoke to Abraham and commanded him to offer his son as a sacrifice to Him on Mount Moriah. It appears Abraham did not tell Sarah or anyone around him about God’s command but kept it to himself. Early in the morning Abraham arose, saddled his donkey, and prepared everything he needed for the journey and the offering. Along with Isaac, he took two servants with him on his journey. They traveled for two full days; then on the third day, he left the two servants behind and went alone with his son to the mountain. This was the same mountain that many years later King David would choose for the location of the temple, which Solomon eventually built.

When Isaac asked his father what the sacrifice would be, Abraham answered that God would provide the lamb for the offering. The Bible simply says that when the altar was ready and the wood was laid out on it, Abraham bound his son and laid him on top of the wood.

At this point Josephus inserts words of Abraham to his son in which he tells Isaac how many times he had prayed for a son and how long he had waited for Isaac to be born. He tells him what pleasure it had given him to see him growing up and knowing he would pass on to Isaac everything of his after his death. “Through the will of God, He gave you to me. Now through the will of God, He takes you from me. You were born unnaturally and now you have to die unnaturally, on your way to God by your own earthly father. I think God does not want to see you die from illness, war, or any other severe way. God wants your soul to come to Him with prayers and holy sacrifice. You, Isaac, will be my protector and shepherd in my old age, for I will procure God as my comforter in exchange for you.”

Josephus continues the conversation, with Isaac accepting what his father said. Isaac declares that he was not worthy to be born in the first place and that he could not reject the will of God and that of his father. Isaac goes voluntarily onto the altar and waits to be killed.

The Bible, of course, tells us that just in time, before Abraham could bring the knife down on his son, God intervened, calling Abraham by name. God’s command to offer Isaac as a sacrifice was not out of desire for blood or to ruthlessly rob Abraham of his precious son; it was meant only to test Abraham’s faith in God as expressed through unquestioning obedience. Now that Abraham had demonstrated his obedience, the Lord was pleased to reaffirm His promise to bless Abraham and multiply his descendants. Through the descendants of Abraham and Isaac, the Lord promised to bring universal blessing.

After God had spoken, He provided a ram for Abraham to offer as a sacrifice. Then Abraham and Isaac joyfully returned to Sarah.

Not long after the sacrifice on Mount Moriah, Sarah passed away. She had lived for 127 years. She was buried in Hebron, where Abraham purchased a field with a cave for burial for four hundred shekels of silver.

A Wife for Isaac

After Sarah’s death, Abraham married Keturah. Keturah bore Abraham six more sons: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. These sons prospered in their own right and settled to the east and south, but “Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac” (Genesis 25:5).

When Isaac was forty years of age, Abraham decided it was time for his son to marry. He wanted him to have a wife from among his relatives, so he chose the eldest of his servants and made him take an oath before God for the undertaking and let him depart with many gifts.

It was a long and difficult and dangerous journey to reach Mesopotamia, but eventually the servant came to the area of Haran, in the northwest of Mesopotamia. Just outside the city, he met several girls on their way to gather water. The servant prayed to God for success and asked the Lord to reveal the girl to him by her willingness to give water to both him and his camels. Almost immediately his prayer was answered when a girl offered him both a drink from her water jar and water for his animals. The servant asked the girl, Rebekah, about her parents, and she answered that her father was Bethuel, the son of Nahor, Abraham’s brother.

Upon hearing the words of Rebekah, the servant was filled with joy, for he could clearly see the hand of God in all this. He gave Rebekah bracelets and a gold ring and asked her if it was possible he could stay over in their house. Rebekah reacted positively and told him that by staying in her family’s house, he would lack nothing. She rushed to her house and informed her family what had happened. Her brother Laban welcomed the servant and took him into the house. Laban took the camels and gave them water and food.

Before he would eat the meal set before him, the servant insisted on telling the family about the family ties between them and Abraham and explained that Abraham had sent him because he desired a wife for Isaac from his own family. He further elaborated about God’s guidance and protection during his journey and how he found Rebekah. The family understood that it was God’s will for Rebekah to go back with the servant and become Isaac’s wife. Rebekah agreed and soon left with the servant.

Some time after Isaac and Rebekah were married, Abraham passed away at 175 years of age. He was recognized for his great devotion for God, and Isaac and Ishmael buried Abraham in Hebron, next to Sarah.

After some years and many prayers, Rebekah became pregnant. There was some unusual movement in her womb, and she asked God about this. God explained to her that she was carrying twins and would give birth to two sons. Two nations would come from these sons, He said, and the younger one and his descendants would be stronger than his older brother and his descendants. Not long after, Rebekah gave birth to Esau and Jacob. Esau, the first to be born, had much hair on his skin. He became Isaac’s favorite, while Jacob was favored by Rebekah.

Famine and Conflict

When famine broke out in the land, Isaac went to Gerar, in the land of the Philistines, where Abimelech was king. When the Philistines saw how God prospered Isaac, they began to envy him. They filled Isaac’s wells with dirt, and Abimelech urged him to leave the area. Isaac moved to another place not far from Gerar. He dug more wells, only to have the Philistines fill them in as well. He kept moving and digging more wells in order to avoid conflict until finally he managed to find a place where he was safe and dug another well that was left undisturbed. This well he named Rehoboth, meaning “wide spaces.”

As Isaac and his house became stronger and increased in prosperity, Abimelech started to fear that Isaac would seek revenge for what Abimelech had done to him. He thought that his former friendship with Abraham might not be enough to prevent Isaac from attacking him, so he decided to ask his commander to join him in trying to repair relations with Isaac. Isaac graciously agreed with everything Abimelech asked him to do, and then Isaac returned to his home.

Jacob and Esau

When Esau was forty years old, he took two wives from among the Canaanites. Apparently he did not ask his father’s permission, for Isaac was grieved by his choice.

When Isaac was very old and had failing eyesight and thought he was near death, he asked Esau to hunt some game and prepare a meal for him so he could bless Esau. This would formally transfer Isaac’s inheritance and authority to Esau.

Rebekah did not agree with Isaac about this because she favored Jacob over Esau for this blessing. So with Jacob she hatched a plan to secure the blessing for her favorite son. Rebekah prepared a young goat and wrapped the hide of this young goat around the hands and neck of Jacob in order to deceive the nearly blind Isaac. So Jacob, pretending to be Esau, nervously brought the meal to Isaac. Isaac recognized the voice of Jacob, but when he touched Jacob’s hands, he was convinced it was his hairy son, Esau, and gave Jacob the blessing he had meant for Esau.

Not long after that, Esau showed up with the meal he had prepared and brought it to Isaac. When Esau asked for the blessing, Isaac realized his mistake but was forced to refuse Esau’s request because he had already given his blessing to Jacob. Now Esau would serve Jacob because through the blessing Jacob was given precedence.

Jacob became very afraid because he learned that Esau planned to kill him in revenge for what he had done. So Rebekah decided to send him to Mesopotamia, to Laban in Haran. Rebekah wanted Jacob to marry one of the daughters of Laban, and she convinced Isaac to agree with this.

As Jacob traveled through Canaan, he came to a place where he would spend the night. He slept under the open sky with his head on a stone. In his sleep Jacob had a dream in which he saw a ladder reaching from the earth into heaven. On this ladder were angels ascending and descending, and at the top of the ladder he saw the Lord. God called Jacob by his name and told him the following:

I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;  and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.  And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. (Genesis 28:13–15)

Jacob was very much cheered by the Lord’s words. He set up the stone he had slept on as a pillar of remembrance and promised God he would bring offerings when he came back to that place alive. He called the place Bethel, which means “house of God.”

Jacob in Haran

Jacob continued his journey and eventually arrived in Haran. Outside the city he met shepherds sitting next to a well. He asked them if they knew Laban, the son of Nahor. They answered that they knew Laban and told him Laban’s daughter Rachel was coming to the well with her father’s sheep. As they spoke, the girl appeared.

Jacob watered Rachel’s flock and then explained the family ties with her and her father. The girl immediately ran to tell her father about Jacob. Laban then ran to meet Jacob and warmly welcomed him.

Laban took Jacob in, and Jacob worked for him. Laban insisted on paying Jacob for his labor, and Jacob asked that in exchange for seven years of work, he be given Rachel as his wife. Laban agreed, and Jacob worked for Laban seven years.

After the seven-year period had passed, Laban made preparations for the wedding feast. But on the night of the feast, Laban took his older and less-attractive daughter, Leah, to Jacob’s tent and let her sleep with Jacob. It was dark, and Jacob was unaware of what had happened. In the morning Jacob was shocked when he realized what had happened, and he confronted Laban about this clandestine action. Laban told Jacob that he had no choice, for it was the custom for the oldest daughter to marry first, and he could not change this. However, he had no objection to Jacob’s working another seven years for him in order to marry Rachel. Because of Jacob’s deep love for Rachel, he agreed to this proposal and then took Rachel also as his wife.

Laban gave both Leah and Rachel maids. Leah was given Zilpah, and Rachel was given Bilhah.

Jacob loved Rachel more than Leah, but it was Leah to whom the Lord gave children. She became pregnant and gave birth to Reuben, whose name means “behold, a son.” After some time three more sons were born to Leah: Simeon, Levi, and Judah.

Now Rachel, who was barren, became jealous of her sister, so she brought her maid, Bilhah, to Jacob, and she bore him two sons, Dan and Naphtali. As a countermeasure, Leah did the same and gave her maid, Zilpah, to Jacob, and she bore him Gad and Asher. Asher means “happy” and pointed to Leah’s improved reputation.

Reuben, the oldest son of Leah, was harvesting in the wheat fields one day and found mandrakes and brought them to Leah. Mandrakes were considered “love plants” that would aid conception. Rachel saw this and asked Leah for some of the mandrakes, but Leah refused to share them with her. Leah found it enough that Rachel had robbed her of her husband Jacob. Rachel then offered to let Leah sleep with Jacob that night in exchange for the mandrakes. Leah accepted this proposal, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Issachar. After Issachar, Leah gave birth to Zebulon and then to a daughter, whom she named Dinah.

Finally, in response to her prayers Rachel conceived and gave birth to Joseph. The last of Jacob’s children, Benjamin, was born some years later to Rachel, who died giving birth to him (Genesis 35:17–19).

After the birth of Joseph, Jacob was ready to return to his own land. When Laban asked what wages he should pay Jacob, Jacob made a very fair suggestion that Laban agreed to. All goats and sheep without speckles, spotless and white, would remain in Laban’s possession. This would be the majority of the flock. All goats and sheep with speckles and spots and the black sheep would be Jacob’s.

Apparently this agreement involved only the animals that would be born from this point on. That same day Laban took the speckled and spotted animals and gave them into the hands of his sons, who took them a three-days’ journey away. This assured that only the spotless animals were available to bear young.

Jacob continued to feed Laban’s flock, but he took rods of green poplar and almond trees and peeled white streaks in them. He then put the rods in the watering gutters and let the stronger goats and sheep drink and mate. The weaker animals he separated and let them drink the normal way. By repeating this practice over a period of time, Jacob obtained a large flock of speckled and spotted animals. This, of course, was actually accomplished by God.

During all this time—twenty years—Jacob had taken good care of Laban’s flocks, but now, at God’s instruction, he made plans to return to the land of his parents. Laban did not want him to do this and was adamantly against it, so Jacob planned to leave Laban in secret and discussed this move with his wives and sons. They all agreed, and they went on their journey with the whole house of Jacob, including the maids and all their possessions. Without Jacob’s knowing it, Rachel took her father’s idols. There was certainly no value to these pagan figures, but Rachel perhaps thought they would give her protection or continued fertility or guarantee an inheritance.

When Laban discovered Jacob and his family had left, he was furious. He gathered his family, and they went to find Jacob. On the seventh day he found the place where Jacob had put up his camp. It was night, and Laban decided to rest first. Laban went to sleep, and in a dream God warned him to be careful about how he spoke to Jacob. He must not be angry or do any harm to Jacob.

The next day Laban spoke to Jacob and told him about his dream. He told Jacob it was within his power to do him harm but that God had prevented that. At this point, Laban was most concerned about his idols and accused Jacob of taking them.

Jacob suggested that Laban search through all their possessions and punish the one with whom the idols were found. Laban began his search, but Rachel had hidden the idols in the saddle of her camel and sat on top of it. She argued that she could not stand because she was in the cycle of menstruation. Unable to find the holy items, Laban turned to Jacob, and the two made a covenant that would keep peace between the families. In memory of their mutual covenant, they built a pillar of stones there and named it Galeed. After a celebration of their covenant, Laban and his entourage went back to Haran.

Return to Canaan

On his way to Canaan, Jacob had an encounter with angels of God, who gave him good courage. He called that place Mahanaim. Jacob then sent messengers ahead of his entourage to meet with Esau and inform his brother that he was returning with his wives and children and his herds of goats and sheep and that he had good intentions and wished for reconciliation with him.

When the messengers returned to Jacob, they informed him that Esau was on his way with four hundred armed men. Upon hearing this, Jacob was frightened, assuming Esau had evil intentions. He split his entourage into two groups so that at least one group might survive in case of an attack. Jacob also sent various groups of camels and part of his flock ahead of him as gifts for Esau in an effort to calm Esau’s emotions toward him.

Jacob was busy arranging everything the whole day, and when evening came, he let the groups depart ahead of him across a brook while he stayed behind. That night a man appeared and wrestled with him until the breaking of the day, and when he saw that he could not prevail against Jacob, he touched the hollow of Jacob’s thigh and dislocated his hip. The man asked Jacob what his name was, and Jacob answered. He then told Jacob that his name would no longer be Jacob but Israel, “he who wrestled with God.” This was another confirmation that Jacob could rejoice because his life would be blessed, along with the lives of his descendants. No man would ever prevail against him, and his people would live forever and be very powerful. After the man departed, Israel called the place Peniel, meaning “the face of God.”

The meeting with Esau was very friendly. The brothers embraced each other and discussed their children and wives. Esau offered to accompany Israel (Jacob) on his way, but Israel answered that it was better for him to move on at a slower pace because of the condition of the children and the flocks, so Esau retreated to his home at Seir.

Israel was in the land only a short time before Rachel died giving birth to his twelfth son, Benjamin. Israel’s mother, Rebekah, had passed away earlier, and soon his father, Isaac, also passed away. Isaac died at an older age than Abraham, at 180 years. He was buried next to his wife, Rebekah, in Hebron, where Abraham and Sarah were buried earlier.

The promises made to Abraham were passed on to Isaac, and from Isaac to Jacob. God’s plan was progressing, slowly and haltingly it seems, but the Lord was working through these men of faith to accomplish His ultimate plan of redemption.

8

JOSEPH AND HIS DREAMS—FAMINE IN THE LAND

(GENESIS 37:1–47:26)

 

Joseph Mistreated in Canaan

Israel was especially fond of Joseph, the first son Rachel had borne to him. His favor toward Joseph, however, caused Joseph’s brothers to become very jealous of him. This envy increased when Joseph told about dreams he had had that foretold great authority for him.

In one of his dreams Joseph and his brothers were binding sheaves in the field, and Joseph’s sheaf arose and stood upright. His brothers’ sheaves moved around Joseph’s sheaf and bowed down to the ground. The brothers understood that the dream indicated Joseph would become powerful and be master over them.

God gave Joseph a second dream, even stranger than the one before. In this dream, which he told to both his father and his brothers, the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowed down before him. Israel rebuked Joseph for telling him such a dream, for he understood that it meant the whole family would bow before Joseph. However, Israel kept this dream in mind. In fact, there would indeed come a time when Joseph would live in great prosperity and be able to take care of Israel and his brothers and they would give Joseph great honor. Because of this dream, however, his brothers were all the more jealous of Joseph.

The brothers were sent to pasture their father’s flocks in Shechem. After a while Israel decided to send Joseph to check on his brothers. When his brothers saw Joseph coming, they quickly came up with a plan to kill him. This was a rare chance they must utilize. Reuben, the eldest of the brothers, saw the intentions of the others and started to speak out about the crime they would commit by killing Joseph. He urged them not to kill Joseph but rather to throw him into a pit in the wilderness. By throwing him into a pit they would gain the same result, but there would be no blood on their hands. The brothers agreed to this plan. They stripped Joseph of his robe and dropped him into a dry pit.

After this, Reuben left, perhaps to look for good pastureland for the flocks. But Judah, one of the brothers, saw a caravan coming from the tribe of Ishmael. The Ishmaelites were transporting perfumes and other merchandise to Egypt. With Reuben gone, Judah advised his brothers to sell Joseph to the merchants. He would then die far away in the unknown, and there would be no risk of their being caught. They saw this as a good idea, so they took Joseph out of the pit and sold him to the Ishmaelite traders. Joseph was seventeen years old at the time.

Reuben returned to the pit later. He had planned to release Joseph without his brothers’ knowing it. But when he found Joseph gone, he went to his brothers, who explained what they had done.

Now that they had disposed of Joseph once and for all, the brothers had to find a way to explain the disappearance of Joseph to their father without leaving suspicion. They still had the garment they had taken from him. This was a special garment their father had given to Joseph. So they killed a goat and dipped the garment in the blood of the goat to make it appear Joseph was killed by wild animals. When shown the tunic, Israel was convinced Joseph was dead. He assumed he had been killed by wild animals before he had reached his brothers. From that moment Israel behaved as though his son were dead and grieved as if he had no other sons. He sat in deep mourning for many days, and there was no way his sons could give any comfort to their father.

Joseph Mistreated in Egypt

When they arrived in Egypt, the traders sold Joseph to Potiphar, a captain of the guard of Pharaoh. Potiphar treated Joseph with kindness, and Joseph performed with excellence everything he was given to do, and God blessed him. Potiphar trusted him and put him in charge of his whole household.

In spite of the privileges Joseph received above all the other slaves, he behaved in a modest and respectable manner. The historian Josephus says Joseph was well built and very handsome, and the wife of Potiphar fell in love with him. She decided to be straightforward with Joseph and thought that he would consider himself fortunate that as a slave he was admired by a woman in such high position. She did not consider Joseph’s inborn character of honesty and respect for his master.

Joseph rejected her passion for him and said he would never betray his master and disgrace him. This dismissal by Joseph was probably surprising to Potiphar’s wife, but her desire for him did not end. She persisted until she made one final attempt to seduce him.

Again Josephus adds much detail to the Bible’s account. He writes that a public holiday arrived and the woman feigned illness before Potiphar in order to escape participating in the celebrations she was expected to attend. Her intention was to be alone with Joseph and approach him in the quietness of the house. When she did, she told Joseph that it would have been better if he had responded positively to her admiration earlier and that his behavior had been beneath her position. As proof of her good intentions and her true passion for him, she had stayed home to give him a second chance. If, in his preference to maintain his reputation of modesty, he rejected her desire, he could count on her wrath.

Despite all these words and tears, Joseph was not intimidated. He remained steadfast and refused to betray his master. According to Josephus, Joseph tried to restrain her desire and told her about the consequences of such a deed and that it would follow her all her life. But she persisted. She slapped her arms around him and tried to force him to lie with her.

The Bible tells us that as Joseph moved away, he lost his outer garment in her hands. She immediately called other servants and accused Joseph of attacking her. When her husband returned home, she told him that the Hebrew slave had abused her and left his garment behind. Potiphar burned with anger and threw Joseph into jail.

Joseph knew God was still in control of his situation. He knew God was fully aware of what had happened and is stronger than any human power. It did not take long before Joseph received a sign from God. Soon the warden in Joseph’s prison noticed how careful and trustworthy he was with any task committed to him, and he gave Joseph greater freedom and put him in charge of the other prisoners.

In time the cupbearer of Pharaoh was put into the prison because he had offended the Egyptian king. There in prison the cupbearer had a dream one night that troubled him. When Joseph asked to hear it and indicated that interpretations of dreams belong to God, the man told Joseph his dream. In the dream he had seen a fully grown grapevine with three branches. Each branch had a large bunch of grapes, ready to harvest. He squeezed the juice from the grapes into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.

Joseph immediately put the cupbearer’s mind at ease. He assured the man that he would be freed within three days and restored to his old position. Joseph then asked the cupbearer to remember him when he regained his previous position and mention him and his situation to Pharaoh because he was in prison without having done anything wrong.

Along with the cupbearer, there was another prisoner there, one who had been chief of the bakers in the palace of Pharaoh. After listening to Joseph’s interpretation of the cupbearer’s dream, he hoped to hear the same from Joseph concerning a dream he also had had the night before. In his dream he carried three baskets of bread on his head. The top basket was also filled with baked goods for Pharaoh. And there were birds eating the food in the top basket.

The baker probably expected to hear a favorable interpretation from Joseph, but instead Joseph told him that the three baskets meant that within three days he would be hanged on a tree, and the birds meant his body would be eaten by birds of prey.

In both cases the events came to pass exactly as Joseph had predicted. The chief of the bakers was hanged on a tree, and the cupbearer was restored to his old position. However, Joseph remained in prison another two years. The cupbearer forgot about him, and no help came.

Joseph Elevated to Power

Then Pharaoh himself experienced two dreams in the same night. He was troubled by the dreams, for he did not know what they meant and probably sensed that they did not mean anything good for him. The next day Pharaoh called the magicians and experts and asked them to interpret the dreams, but they could not. Then the cupbearer saw how troubled he was, and he told Pharaoh about Joseph and how he had correctly interpreted his dream and that of the chief baker. Pharaoh quickly sent his servants to bring Joseph out of prison and to him.

When Joseph appeared before Pharaoh, the king asked him to interpret his dreams in the same manner as he had done for the cupbearer and the chief of the bakers. He told Joseph that in his dream he was next to the Nile River and saw well-fed, large cows, seven in number. The cows came up out of the river and grazed in a marsh. Seven more cows then came up out of the river. They looked dreadful and very thin. They ate the well-fed cows, but it did not help them; they still looked dreadful and thin.

Then Pharaoh told Joseph his second dream, which was just as strange and troubling. He saw seven ears of grain, all of them from the same stalk. They were very heavy and ready to harvest. Nearby were another seven ears of grain, but they were totally withered and weak because of lack of water. But these withered ears of grain ate the good ears.

***

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Grace & Truth: The Narrow Gate

Grace and Truth, the Narrow Gate offers a window to human nature and God dealing with this in His divine way. Where we come from, who we are, what we do on this earth and what our destination will be. In a Biblical narrative and in detail, the reader is invited to join part of the amazing journey God has designed to start with one man to prepare a people and through that people to bring forth one Man to bring Salvation to all of mankind. It describes the various life's of an ancient people and their different nature. The first king of Israel, Saul, and second king, David, the man after God's own heart and in the lineage of Jesus. When passing through the Narrow Gate we are offered to drink from the Living Water and to start our own journey with the living God. No longer alone, but with the best friend ever. He will be the lamp for our feet and the light on our path and part of every aspect in our life. God's intrinsic value for each and every human being is beyond understanding and His great love and mercy are incredible. John 4:14 (NIV) But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

  • ISBN: 9781370763894
  • Author: Johannes Broos
  • Published: 2017-09-23 09:05:13
  • Words: 75559
Grace & Truth: The Narrow Gate Grace & Truth: The Narrow Gate