Monthly Archives: May 2014

Edomites in the Wilderness.. Who is My Neighbor?

Deuteronomy 2
Yesterday I started reading Deuteronomy. Today I was reading in Deuteronomy 2 and something hit me from the below section. I don’t have any great commentary of Deuteronomy in my possession  but from looking in a few of the standard ones the web has available, I don’t think what hit me is too far off or incorrect. This is the section:

‘You have been traveling around this mountain country long enough. Turn northward and command the people, “You are about to pass through the territory of your brothers, the people of Esau, who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. So be very careful. Do not contend with them, for I will not give you any of their land, no, not so much as for the sole of the foot to tread on, because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession. You shall purchase food from them with money, that you may eat, and you shall also buy water from them with money, that you may drink. For the LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He knows your going through this great wilderness. These forty years the LORD your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing.” Deuteronomy 2:3-7 (ESV)

I’ve bolded what really slapped me in the face reading.

The people from Esau – the Edomites – shared a lineage with the Israelites to Isaac but they were different tribes. Jacob, Esau’s brother received the birthright, his name eventually became Israel – and his people, the Israelites were God’s covenant people.

Maybe it’s because the concept of common grace is on my mind from a Sproul podcast I listened to this week and I’m sensitive to looking for examples – but this struck me as an example of common grace. The grace poured out on all humanity – whether an individual receives saving grace or not. The grace found for example in the bellow passage – speaking about God:

“For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” Matthew 5:45b

 

This recounting from Moses of the wanderings that took place in the book of Numbers shows me some things…

– God gave Esau a possession and would not permit His chosen people, Israel, to take that claim away from the Edomites.

– In fact He told Moses to try to engage in business with them and buy food and drink (See Numbers 20 14-20 to see how that worked out).

– I may be off the mark here and if I am I thank you in advance for correction and instruction – but it seems like God said in some sense – “Let them keep the land I’ve given them, try to engage in business with them – at least partially because you’ve lacked no necessity all this time out here, you have my presence and my help, you’ve been blessed significantly.”

– Here and in Numbers 20 – the term “brothers” was used. Brothers in lineage. Perhaps brothers in being fellow nomadic people at that time. But brothers.

This doesn’t mean in the sense of an adoption into God’s family like those called unto salvation are through the adoption in Christ.. But it strikes me as similar in sense to the question that sparked the parable of the good Samaritan “Who is my neighbor?” In response to Jesus’ bold proclamation about the two greatest commandments on which the law hangs:

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39

God Has It Under Control

The Edomites did meet an end. They dwindled and disappeared. They fought against Israel, were subjugated under Israel and you don’t meet Edomites today. The land of Edom is uninhabited today as prophesied in Ezekiel. But this befell Edom in God’s timing and His plans. There is a lesson to me there also about not stepping in and thinking myself to be a judge or to know the mind of God that I could make a judgment on my own where such a judgment is not clear in scripture. This doesn’t mean a reading of Matthew 7 that stops at “Judge not” and rips the rest up.. There are places where we are clearly called to speak His truth, to proclaim what He says about sin and to rightly divide His Word and apply it. This does not mean I cannot go to an abortion mill and talk about the suffering and misery that is child sacrifice or tell a friend they are in danger of His judgment. But I mean – I can’t go and make my own rules and apply them. I don’t need to go above and beyond and assume what God wants. I can follow His Word and stay plenty busy working out my own sanctification and being the dad and husband I am called to be.

Well Timed Assault

This passage hits me after I was an idiot on Facebook. I shared a news story about discrimination and religious liberty meeting head on. And I argued with the first responses that came in, lost sight of the discussion and just kept arguing.

I won’t dredge the original story up or the point I was making in sharing. I have since deleted the post because I found myself defending myself and being defensive needlessly and that looked like a hole being dug deeper. Perhaps James was speaking about me and he meant my fingers on a keyboard or my thumbs on the phone where he spoke about the tongue all those times… And I won’t get into what I feel about that original story – because it is actually complex.

But what I will say is these passages made me think and they reminded me about three things:

  • I don’t deserve the saving grace I received. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, I’ve been blessed far beyond my deserve. I’ve murmored at times. I’ve worried often. I get angry. I get defensive. I can look at manna and grumble, “that’s it?! I want something tastier.”
  • Common Grace is here because of God’s agents – He does want to use us to confront the culture we find ourselves in. He doesn’t want us to conform and accept what is acceptable. He calls us to speak out in defense of those who need it. He calls us to share the Gospel Truth with a lost and dying world that His elect may hear and believe. But he also calls us to live selflessly. I know this, and I try to do this. I fail in many ways, and by His grace succeed in others. But as I blogged about before here – I think the church in America needs a lot of work here.. Hard to have a voice when we aren’t His instruments of giving common grace to a world that is decaying and dying. When we get lose on legalistic thinking and creating too many litmus tests this mission falters. (Some litmus tests are important and needed for sure. There are things I would rather lose my business over or be in jail over if ever put in a position of deciding. We are to be a holy people and separate over more than many liberal churches decide to.. But on the other hand when partiality, legalism and finger pointing free from introspection creeps up we should be scared.. I tow that line too closely sometimes, I see that)
  • My Neighbor Is Who I Least Think It Is – The Edomites weren’t real nice to the Israelites here in the wilderness. They didn’t exactly have a favorable history either. Even God Himself said He had chosen Jacob over Esau – for the purposes of His will. If ever there was a group that someone reading between the lines of God’s Word could have made a case for – it probably could have been at least stealing some water from those people.

 

 

Our Adoption in Christ

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:4-6 ESV

 

Adoption Is God’s Idea – It’s His Plan For Us

Scripture is replete with descriptions such as the passage above from Galatians talking about this concept that those who are in Christ are adopted into this relationship with Him.

Adoption wasn’t Plan B. It was part of Plan A.  Before the foundations of the world were laid, God knew His son would come to save us. He knew we would need that gift from the moment the first two humans entered into sin. He knew the sin nature would corrupt us. Jesus wasn’t a scramble to fix things. It was His perfect plan all along.

His plan included salvation through faith in Christ (“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” – Ephesians 2:8) but it wasn’t just salvation from the wrath that was justly due to all of us the moment we first sinned. It included a continual work of faith for sanctification  (“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20). It was still more than this though.

Look at the verse at the top. Look at this one:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Ephesians 1:3-6 with added emphasis.

God didn’t just save us from His wrath. Though that would surely be far more than we deserve and would be and is an amazing gift of mercy and grace alone. He did far more.

He Adopted Us

Get lost on that thought for a minute. I’ll wait.

He adopted us. I’ve tried to wrap my head around this before. When I first became a father biologically, it made these verses that talk about sonship through Christ’s act on the cross mean more. It made the talk of adoption mean more. But I was missing something. I’ve never really stepped through the thoughts of a parent in an adoption so I missed some amazing truths about our adoption.

Right now we are in the midst of an international adoption process in my family. We started down the road of adopting one child. While working on that adoption, another child has been added to our adoption. Someday, when it is all done I may write more details about it. So many answers to prayer, so many moments of sitting back and watching God work, almost like we were watching someone else go through the process amazed at what God was doing. It’s all Him – the desire to adopt, the process, the doors that have opened and we trust Him for the closing rounds and praise Him regardless of the outcome.

Even though our children – and I feel comfortable saying that because while the legal process isn’t done, the heart process is moved to that stage – are not yet legally ours or even in our country, I can honestly say that the concept of me being adopted by God (even typing that is mind boggling.. I’m adopted… by God. Me.. The sinner, the guy who can’t get out of his own way with failure and faults.. An adopted child of God.) means much more to me now.

Some Lessons

There will be more I am sure. But for now? I already see so much about what my adoption in Christ means –

  1. He made the first move – Just in case this isn’t clear enough in scripture – I’ve seen just what that means more clearly now. These kids didn’t start a pen pal campaign to us. They didn’t plead with us. We searched them out. We began the process to find them. We sought them, they weren’t seeking us.  (“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” John 15:16)
  2. I didn’t “do” anything to earn His love – This is perhaps a most clear lesson. I love these children. The same way and the same feeling as I love my biological children. There is no difference. I am moved to love them. They didn’t do something to earn that love. It’s just there. It is unconditionally there. We are committed to them just the same way we are committed to our biological children. They can’t “un-adopt” themselves from us. No matter how hard they may try, no matter what mistakes they make.
  3. He doesn’t “need” us –  I’ve sometimes heard begging or pleading calls to salvation that make it sound like God needs something from us. Like He is lonely and we fulfill some need He has. We’re a happy family. We have three children and we are content. We haven’t suffered a loss that is causing us to find some replacement to muffle heart ache. We weren’t seeking something to make us feel better, we love them and are moved to them by Him working on our hearts. God is just fine with or without us as sons. His adoption isn’t to satisfy some longing or loneliness.
  4. He paid dearly for us – His son suffered greatly for God’s elect. The physical agony of the cross was one thing – the giving up of His glory to take the cross, the punishment of the sins of all of the elect on the cross – this is the difficult price. The price that we cannot begin to imagine or understand – and praise Him, we never will understand. The road we’ve been on is nothing at all compared to what Christ did for us – but in a sense it underscores this sense of adoption for me. We’ve spent money, we’ve made cuts, we’ve traveled far and will again, we’ve done more paperwork than we ever have. Again this isn’t even remotely close to what Christ did – but these children have done nothing. We’re doing all of the work. We are happily doing the work and movement towards them. What a picture that is of God moving towards us and doing all of the work of salvation. I don’t know who first said it but I’ve often heard this quote “The only thing I bring to my salvation is the sin”.
  5. We have full rights as His heirs – If it is God’s will for the adoptions to be finalized – they will have our last name. They will be in our family. They have the full rights as our children. No different from our biological children at all. They have the promise that their parents will be there for them and protect them. If there was an inheritance it would be just as much theirs as my firstborn’s. We have legal obligations, requirements and responsibilities for them. Now.. Ponder that but instead the father is The Father! The God who created this universe, who created this earth, who knows each star, who knows the grains of sand on the earth, who owns this all.. We’re His. We aren’t just His possession. We are His heirs. When we sing “This is my father’s world” – we actually literally mean this is OUR Father’s world.