Friday Sundown Worship.
As I am writing this, it is snowing outside, a reminder of the coming and going of the seasons. I enjoy snow, more so looking at it than playing in it. There was a time when the reverse was true, but age sometimes changes us.
When I think upon the changing of the seasons, I often think of the book of Genesis, the book of beginnings. Genesis is the foundation upon which the entire rest of the Bible is built upon. Genesis has long been my favorite book in the Bible. Yet strangely, I have preached fewer sermons from Genesis than any other book.
Genesis builds us up to a fantastic high as we witness as it were the creation of the earth, but it also shows us the low of humanity. Genesis chapter three is that very sad, sad story of how our first parents turned over the dominion of this earth to another. After this happened God came to Adam wishing to talk with Adam and his wife. While talking to them, God gave a promise to Adam and Eve. We find this promise in Genesis 3:15 where it says “I will put enmity Between you (the serpent or Satan) and the woman (the church) and between your seed (Satan’s) and her Seed (Jesus); He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heal.”
This one text is the text upon which all hope is built upon. Upon this one Text Jesus promised that there would not have to be this permanent separation between God and mankind which was the result of Adam’s sin. Upon this one text, God proved for all mankind throughout eternity that God desired a relationship with us, even though we didn’t necessarily desire a relationship with Him. God longs for a relationship with you and I.
Sin eventually became so bad that he chose to save the world by starting over with eight people, Noah, his wife, there three sons and their wives. Eight people to once again start over and populate the earth. From this family Abram was born and upon Abram and his descendants God chose to renew the covenant that he made with Adam and Eve.
Abram heard God call and left everything to follow God to another land the land of Canaan in what today we call Palestine. Genesis the fifteenth chapter is the renewing of this covenant with Abram.
Let’s quickly review the events of Genesis chapter fifteen. God came to Abram in a vision saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram, I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward.” Abram had before received the promise of God that he, Abram, would be the father of a great nation, and here now God was reaffirming his promise. Abram was greatly puzzled and said, “How can this be, for I have no children.”
Abram looked at his trusted servant Eliezer and said of him, “he is my heir.” But God said that the promised One would come from Abram and from no one else. Eliezer was not to be the heir as was the tradition of the time for all the household of a childless man to go to his most trusted servant.
Can you imagine the great disappointment Abram must have felt at hearing these words? So God brought him outside his tent and directed him to look toward the heavens and gaze upon the star filled heaven. God said: “Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.” And he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.”
Again, Abram exercised his faith, believed in the LORD and the LORD accounted it to him for righteousness.
“Then Abram said to God, ‘How shall I know that I will inherit it?’”
What happens next we often fail to comprehend because we are so far removed from the culture of that time. But God using the items and customs that were familiar with Abram directed him to do the following. God directed him to bring a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtle dove, and a young pigeon.
Abram was to cut the heifer, the goat and the ram in two and place them half on one side and half on the other side with the dove on one side the pigeon on the other. There was to remain between the two groups of slaughtered animals room for a path for walking.
As what happens when animals have been killed Abram had to shew the vultures away and as the sun was setting Abram fell in a deep sleep. A great and awful darkness surrounded him.
God then unfolded before Abram a vision describing what would happen to his descendants over the next 4 hundred years. The promise was given Abram that through his descendants the Messiah, the promised Seed of Genesis 3:15 would be born.
17 And it came to pass when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and burning torch that passed between those pieces.
In Abrams time this was the way a covenant between two people was made. The greater or more important the one in whom was making the covenant would pass between the offering first and then the lesser of the two parties would pass through next. The covenant was made between God (the greater) and Abram (the lesser) but Abram never passed between the offering of meat. But in verse 17 we read that as the sun went down, and it was dark, that behold their appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch passed between the pieces.
In the book of Revelation, Christ is symbolized by a burning lamp or golden candlestick. And the throne of God is often described as a smoking furnace. So here before Abram, God went between the slaughtered meat first to show his commitment to the covenant and then knowing that mankind could not live up to the covenant, Jesus himself passed through confirming Jesus’ commitment to take upon himself to fulfill our part of the covenant in place of Abram who would be unable to hold up his end of the covenant on his own. Where man failed, Jesus stood in man’s place to fulfill the obligation of the covenant.
To further show God and Jesus’ commitment to the covenant they caused the offering to be consumed by fire until it was all burned up.
From the book of Leviticus, we see that the items that were consumed by this fire were the very items used in the Sanctuary service to symbolize Christ’s atoning sacrifice for our sins.
What a beautiful picture of the plan of salvation. Where man falls short in his effort to become reunited to God, Christ comes and fulfills man’s part of the covenant, by becoming the Seed that through Him many nations would be blessed.
How is it then that we can picture God as a cruel and vengeful God, when he was willing to make a covenant with sinful man that would one day restore all mankind to him. But, God knew that mankind was unable to live up to this covenant, so he supplied a second, or a substitute who would come as a man, live as a man, suffer as all mankind does and in so doing would fulfill the requirements of the covenant that mankind was unable to fulfill.
To me, this sounds like a God, that is longing to be with us. So much so that he fulfilled the obligations necessary so that mankind can once again be reunited with him. If this doesn’t sound like a God of love, then I must be confused.
If this sounds like the type of God you could love, then what are you waiting for. He is longing, waiting and hoping that you will want to spend time with him as much as he wants to spend time with you, so give him your heart. Don’t wait! Don’t put it off! Do it today!