Monday, March 23, 2009

Ishmael and Isaac - The Discerning Church

Genesis 17:

15And God said to Abraham, "As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. 16I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her." 17Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, "Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?" 18And Abraham said to God, "Oh that Ishmael might live before you!" 19God said, "No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him. 20As for Ishmael, I have heard you; behold, I have blessed him and will make him fruitful and multiply him greatly. He shall father twelve princes, and I will make him into a great nation. 21But I will establish my covenant with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year."

Matthew 16:

13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." 20Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ. 21From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. 22And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you." 23But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man."

John 3:

6That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again.' 8The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit."

It has been my observation for some time that the church at large whether it calls itself emerging; emergent; evangelical; charismatic/pentecostal/fundamentalist; or ????Has long been operating in the realm of the ”good idea”.

(The church has been caught up in dispensationalist dogma for so long that it is missing the point entirely. The story of Ishmael and Isaac is not the story of Islam vs. the Judeo-Christian world. In fact, Islam came into being during Mohammed’s lifetime some 2600-2700 years later. We also have the fact that the Arabic nations of the middle east do not contain the largest population of Muslims currently in the world. The real brotherly contention that affects Israel is the one between Esau and Jacob. Romans 9:6-12)

The confession of Peter, followed by his receiving a most severe rebuke from Jesus, is not the story of the “first pope”, or the story of good old “bumbling Peter”.

Jesus’ words to Nicodemus are not a mystical “formula” for salvation.

Isaac and Ishmael is the story of faith against flesh; promise vs the Law; and freedom vs bondage. All of these are speaking of the battle between man’ ideas and methods, and God’s specific and pre-established plans, which are his ways and thoughts.

1. Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God. In the next breath, he was denying the work and purpose of that very Christ.Let’s look at this.The revelation that Peter spoke was given to Him by God the Father. Peter could take no credit for this knowledge, as he never possessed it. 1 Cor 2: 6-16This alone refutes the roman catholic claim that Peter is the rock the church is built upon.Why build your church on a man who is of corruptible flesh, and in bondage to the Law of sin and death?

It is, in reality, built upon the new man of sinless perfection and incorruptible flesh, who is the Christ, the Son of the living God? 1 Cor 3:9-17; 1 Peter 2:4-8; Eph 2:19-21
Therefore the confession that Jesus is the Christ, is the cornerstone we are built upon. The confession is the essence of who He is.
The Word (confession) became flesh.

The knowledge given to Peter from above, and the professing of that knowledge into the earth, are the revelation of the plan and method of God, that is, Isaac.When Jesus begins to explain what that revelation really means, Peter slips into “man-mode” and rebukes Jesus, “far be it from you Lord!” to which Jesus rebukes Peter, “get behind me Satan”. The word satanas in Greek take from satan, in the Hebrew meaning adversary/accuser. Jesus was not calling Peter the devil. He was saying that Peter is thinking like men think, which is always against what God thinks. Peter was well intentioned, but had no concept of God’s plans and ways. Isaiah 55:8-1;2Cor 10:3-6
We are all so relieved that the Lord rebuked Peter, not realizing that the Lord is saying this to us, constantly. This is our rebuke also!

2. Let’s look at Nicodemus:Jesus said a man must be born again, i.e. born anew, from above (in the Greek)Nicodemus asked how a man could enter the womb again and be physically reborn. Of course we know that Jesus did not mean that. He was speaking of a new creation through the Spirit. The old man has died, and we are reborn in Him; baptism being the testimony of this fact, and not the required method of salvation. That is another subject, for another time.
Jesus answer is interesting. “That which is born of flesh is flesh”; Ishmael. This refers to the physical process of childbirth. “That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit”; Isaac. In other words, “born again” has nothing to do with the natural man.
No one knows where the wind comes from or where it goes, but they know it is there. So it is with all things spiritual. No one discerns the origin or destination of the Spirit, but the Spirit. 1 Cor 2:6-16 Nicodemus was thinking as men think. He could not discern the mind of the Spirit. The sovereign Lord reveals His will and agenda, when He desires, and to whom He desires.

3. Onto Abraham, Isaac, and Ishmael.
God gave a covenant-promise to Abraham, which Abraham believed by faith. Genesis 12:1-3and Genesis 15:1-6; (See also Romans 4:1-5)When Abram and Sarai came to the decision to have Abram conceive a child with Sarai’s handmaid, Hagar, they acted in good faith as far as man was concerned.“Abram believed God” is what the Scripture says. However, neither he nor Sarai, had any understanding of how God intended to accomplish this.In Genesis 16 we have Abram conceiving a child with Hagar (this was done in accordance to the custom of the times they lived in).
Sarai had a change of heart about the whole situation, causing Hagar to flee from her in fear. (God’s will)
Still, God promised Hagar that He would BLESS her son, Ishmael, and give him many descendants, which is in keeping with His original promise to Abram. (What a faithful and glorious God. He keeps all His Word.) The one caveat being that Ishmael would be wild and contentious towards his brothers.

In the beginning of chapter 17 God repeats the covenant to Abram, and reveals more of its detail. He also changes Abram’s name to Abraham, and Sarai’s to Sarah.He then reveals His will and ways completely to Abraham. You will have son with Sarah. At this Abraham laughs, as he is now 99 years old.Abraham cries out “oh that Ishmael (now 13 years of age) might live before you.”Abraham still does not see it. God is merciful and blesses Ishmael for Abraham’s sake, but he proclaims that only through Sarah, and in Isaac ( God’s laughter) will He accomplish His purposes of salvation and blessing for all the earth.

Ishmael and Isaac, and the contention between them, is commonly taught in dispensationalist circles to represent, as I said, the current state of the middle-east.This is a shallow reading of the scriptures.

Galatians 4:

21Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar.25Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.27For it is written, "Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor! For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband."28Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30But what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman." 31So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

Paul is saying Ishmael represents all who are born into the bondage of the Law and have never left that bondage, i.e. they are not “born again”. this is truly a "tale of two cities" Hebrews 11: 8-10

Isaac represents all who are “born again” into the promise, as Isaac is the fruit of two “dead bodies” miraculously producing life: life out of death, what a novel concept.

Paul quotes Isaiah 54. The “desolate one” typifies all of those who are not Israel, and “the one who has a husband” is the nation Israel. Read Romans 10:18-21

Paul then concludes with this thought, which has its’ full revelation in his letter to the church in Rome; We who have died with Christ, to the flesh, are now born again on the Spirit, and therefore children of the promise.

The Law, through the flesh, contends with those who are of the Spirit and are free.(Romans 5-6-7-8)The name Ishmael means “God has heard my cry” this symbolizes the state of the slave crying out for freedom. The name Isaac, meaning laughter, i.e. God had the last laugh, symbolizes the state of the free man, i.e. “the joy of the Lord is our strength.”

Isaac is God’s revealed will, and Ishmael is man’s good idea; man’s attempt to save himself and accomplish the will of God. Ishmael is legalism. The Law saves no one, unless one can actually keep it. Jesus was the only one to keep it perfectly. It is most interesting that Ishmael was circumcised under the covenant, and both he and Isaac, together, buried Abraham (this being a wonderful picture of the promise of the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets in faith). Genesis 17:23-26; Genesis 25:8-10

So in the church today we have Peter’s rebuke to Jesus. Nicodemus’ non-comprehension, and Abram’s and Sarai’s good faith attempt to accomplish God’s will for Him.Let no one believe for a moment, that God’s allowing Ishmael to be conceived, birthed, and even blessed, for a time, is a sign that anything we say, or do, is Isaac. God works however He desires to work, and all things work together for good to all who love God, who are the “called”.
Our efforts are allowed only as a contrast to the times when God does move through His “Isaac church”.
God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, and referred to him as Abraham’s ONLY son. Genesis 22

In the flesh this was not true, as Abraham had several sons, but what is born of the Spirit, is Spirit.
We prove daily what works are Ishmael, and what are Isaac. What comes from ourselves, innovative as it may seem, and what is Christ. The Father accepts only that which is offered to Him through the finished work of His only begotten Son. That finished work and will is this:

Matthew 16:

“21From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

Is the foundation we are laying, and are we building upon that foundation, in line with the Lord’s mind revealed in this scripture, or are we saying” far be it from you Lord” we don’t care for that way at all?

When it comes to protestants or catholics modernists/post modernists, or evangelical/charismatic/pentecostals this is the only standard that applies.

The appearance of success or blessing is no proof that their work is not of their own invention.

Jesus’ admonition to judge with right judgment is not only applicable to healing a man on the Sabbath, it is applicable to everything and anything that the “church” says and does in the name of the Lord, and His Kingdom. John 7:23-24

The only standard of discernment is the WORD, i.e. Jesus, revealed through His Word, the Scripture. Nothing will be judged by mere appearances. Righteous and just judgment is God’s will.Deut 16:18-20

God does not hide His will, from us.

May the Isaac of God be birthed in His church, and may true biblical discernment be manifest.

Amen and Amen!

Deut 29:

29"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Soli Deo Gloria, Sola Scriptura

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