Cambridge, Dorchester County, Md.
by Pete Macinta
Exodus 3:15bThe LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you:
When confronted by the Sadducees about a hypothetical situation (Mt. 22:23-33), or what the Sadducees would consider a problem, Jesus ended his rebuke to them by using this verse (Ex. 3:15), saying, But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living." There is much power in Exodus 3:15, and much power in what Jesus said.
A careful reading of the lives of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the book of Genesis will shed light on the blessings of the phrase that holds the name of all three of these men.
Leave and Lean - the God of Abraham...
Genesis 12:1 reads, "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." If you read Gen. 11, you will see that there is a possibility that Abram's (Abraham) dad, Terah, may himself had been urged by God to leave Ur.
Sadly to say, much of the world was polytheistic (believed in more than one God) at that time. As I read the generations listed in Gen. 11, I must always wonder about Shem. Was he polytheistic? However, then I must muse that how can the any of the survivors of The Flood be polytheistic?
Were his descendents, his son Arphaxad, grandson Salah, and his great-grandson Eber, polytheistic? I will bring these men up again under Isaac, but whether they were polytheistic or not, as I have said, much of the world was at that time. Therefore, I feel that for the Christian, Ur can represent the world.
Despite the fact that much of the world at that time was polytheistic, surely the truth that there is one God was passed down somehow and in some way down through the generations.
As I think of Terah, a descendent of Shem, I feel he heard from God. His son Abram heard from God, and remember Terah also left Ur. In fact, Gen. 11:31 states Terah took Abram from Ur. Regardless, the fact is that they left. So too, when God redeems us, when we truly accept Christ as our Savior, we leave the world. Yes, physically we are still here, but accepting Christ, that is, fully dedicating our lives to Him alone, means we are no longer OF this world. We must not love the things of the world (1 John 2:15-17).
The area of Ur would later been known as part of Babylonia. Looking at passages such as Rev. 18:4 and 2 Cor. 6:16 should remind us to make sure we have left the world. Once we have truly accepted Christ, we have left this world and have become a citizen of heaven (Philip. 3:20 - the Greek word for "conversation" in that verse can denote citizenship).
In leaving this world behind as we walk in Christ, we are to be determined not to return to the world, act like the world, or be influenced by the world.
For those that are reading the Bible for the first few times, or perhaps some who have not studied like they should have studied, the journey from Ur to Canaan was at least 800 miles or around 1290km. The journey to Canaan was not in straight line, but headed somewhat northwestward providing the availability of water on the way. The journey would take weeks.
For Abram and Terah to leave and journey for weeks shows commitment. A true Christian is committed, continuing in his journey in Christ without the idea of turning back to the world.
Many times when an individual responds to the Holy Spirit of God and dedicates their life to Christ, voices of the world tell them to stop! The newborn Christian is pressured by peers and relatives to continue in a walk that would displease God. The newborn might hear various challenging questions: What do you mean you don't want to hear this (dirty) joke? How come you quit hanging around with us so much? What do you mean you won't lie? Why did you give that money back? What do you mean you won't kiss anyone under the mistletoe? How can one drink hurt you? - And so on!
Hopefully the newborn will see these times as opportunities to witness. You will make mistakes (wording, tone of voice, etc.), but do not be deterred by your mistakes. Keep responding, and you will learn from the Holy Spirit how to respond.
Here's something I'd like to share about my first year of salvation. First, understand I was raised Roman Catholic. My dad was Russian Orthodox, but mom and my sister Pat were Roman Catholic. Now, of course when I first became saved I soon started attending church, but not the Roman Catholic Church because they have a system of salvation by works. Yes, they do. Please refer to the Vatican itself on the internet on this matter. A couple of months later, I was involved (as a passenger!) in a car accident. Well, Pat said to me, "See what happens when you leave the Roman Catholic Church?" I responded, "Pat, even Roman Catholics have car accidents." In fact, I think the driver of the car that my friend hit was a Roman Catholic! Concerning my sister, that little exchange paved the way for future dialogue with her, and reinforced in my mind to ignore any negative fear that the RCC may have instilled in me as child.
A few years later, my wife and I were traveling in a car driven by Pat's husband, George, and Pat was in back. Of course, they being devout Roman Catholics had few plastic statues in their car. For some reason, maybe the car was having trouble, I briefly moved a figure of Jesus so I could read a gauge better. Pat said, "Don't move my Jesus!" I believe we responded that we did not have to worry if Jesus is in our heart.
So, do not let the voices of the world stop your walk in Christ, which will then cause you to return to the world.
I think it was my friend Bob Wittik and I who had witnessed to a young man I think in 1971. The guy grew marijuana. Upon accepting Christ, he started to destroy his plants. His parents stopped him from doing so, and we never heard from him again.
Whether it is the State, a judge, a lawyer, a parent, a relative, a friend, or whoever, let no one stop you from leaving the world!
Today, things are more subtle. Some Bible colleges are graduating people that think like the world. If they are called to pastor, or think they have the call to pastor, they may ask a church board what's the package? Do I get healthcare?, and so on, and refusing any church that will not pay them what they expect. In recent years at Cornerstone, individuals and groups have asked a set sum of money. One group wanted $600 to do a program at the local high school. One Assembly of God evangelist refused to return to Cornerstone because I did not give him enough money from the church for speaking in two Sunday services. I gave that man more than I ever got on the average up to that point. Unless he has changed, I will be very glad NOT to recommend this man if someone asks. At that time he traveled, and still might, all over the USA specializing in youth outreaches. At that time he was a landlord. What I paid that man for one day was well over what I have ever received in one day, even in a secular job. Also, he was not married at the time, and had no children that I know of. The $80 he was paid, more than our church ever gave to one speaker for one day, was not good enough. Yet, it was good enough that all three of my sons shared the same room, the youngest sleeping on a "glorified window sill"! By the way, our youngest recently told us he enjoyed sleeping there!
When we get saved, we are to stop thinking like the world! Many of today's generation for Jesus have no commitment, except to themselves. Gladly though, we have met a few that are really committed.
Abraham certainly learned to leave the idols of his ancestors behind, and eventually learned to lean only upon God.
Lean and Live - the God of Isaac...
5 And the servant said unto him, Peradventure (perhaps) the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest? 6 And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.
I have always sensed the graveness of concern by Abraham in the words Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again.
Now, consider the listing of ancestry in Genesis 11:10-32. A few years back I charted the life span of all those men. If you chart it yourself, and come up with a different conclusion, please email me. If my memory serves me correctly, after charting, I saw I saw the possibility that Shem, Arphaxad, Salah, and Eber were still alive for part of Isaac's life.
Yes, most likely they did not move to Padanaram, but keep in mind there were still strong ties and communications. I hope these four men were not polytheistic, but it seems odd that Abraham's seed does not enter Padanaram until his grandson Jacob desired a wife, and those four were dead.
Symbolically, as Ur corresponds to the world, the past life of a true Christian, Padanaram speaks of compromise.
Note that when Abram heard from God to get out of his country and from his kin, he was in Haran, not his original home of Ur. It is possible that the Ur where Terah and Abram had lived was another Ur besides the one seen on maps as located at the southern end of the Tigris River. The point is though, Haran, what I feel represents compromise, was considered by God as Abram's original homeland, though his birth place could have been hundreds of miles away. Compromise is then, in reality, giving in to the world, and being in the world.
As you read Genesis 24, you see that Isaac was most likely learning to lean upon God again. Personally, I think he had an earlier lesson (Gen. 22) in leaning on God when his dad was ready to kill him to offer him to God! After marriage, he learned to lean on God in his quest for water (Gen. 26).
Isaac, of course, spiritually matured, living more abundantly in the Lord as time progressed.
New Christians must make a clean break from the world, and learn early not to compromise. This is essential. Every person that I have seen converted and then begins to compromise either backslides or becomes the weakest type of Christian possible.
New Christians must learn to relish in the life of Christ. Read the Bible. Worship God. Serve God. Witness. Receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Be baptized in water.
I still remember those Spring and Summer months the first year I was saved. I would sit, recline, whatever, in my backyard and read the Bible. I was in almost every church service. When asked to do something I did it. Please do the same.
Endeavor to have a sheltered time of your life when you are virtually shut in with God. Even we older Christians should schedule such a season from time to time!
Live and Learn - and the God of Jacob;...
Of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the life Jacob seems to be the one most tainted by error. As he deceived, so he was deceived. He also experienced dark times of fear, worry, and anguish of heart. However, his heart remained tender to God.
Because his heart was tender, he learned. He learned so well he was able to give an honorable testimony before Pharaoh of Egypt, and was powerfully directed by the Holy Spirit to bless his sons, and his grandsons, Manasseh and Ephraim.
As far as I know, every Christian makes mistakes. Instead of giving up though, we should seek the forgiveness of God, press on in Christ, and learn from our errors.
Sad to say, I can think of many errors I have made. I wish I could go back and undo every single error. The best we can do is to ask God to forgive us and learn from those errors.
Here is an error I made. While pastoring Flintstone Assembly of God, the area population was decreasing, and so was church membership. The bills were increasing. As a result, I halted the church's giving to missions. Things got worse! God rebuked me. I then asked the treasurer to resume payment to missions. Things got better. I sure learned a lesson. After that, Flinstone AOG consistently gave to missions after that point under my administration. I do believe before we, with truly God's help, even before we started Cornerstone Assembly in Cambridge MD, money was sent to missions from the account. Today, Cornerstone gives more than 10% back to Lord in foreign and home missions, and at least 1% in benevolence (alms). There have been some financially thin times for Cornerstone, but God has performed miracle after miracle.
Love the Lord - The LORD God of your fathers
If one takes an objective, clear minded reading of the Scriptures, it should be quite evident that God is holy and loving, desiring only the good of each individual. This fact remains true, even though we are chastised of God (see Heb. 10).
Life was not always happy for the three men mentioned in this study, yet, as they trusted the LORD God, they were miraculously transformed into the men of God respected by generations of Jews and Christians.
Throughout every step of their life, God guided and sustained them. All three men gradually increased in their commitment to God.
As Abraham corresponds to the Christian leaving the world, Isaac to that time in which we find shelter in Him, and Jacob to that time that perhaps we are buffeted by the world, and on the basis that all three are mentioned as belonging to the same LORD God in Exodus, thus Christ is Lord of all facets of our walk in Him. We must lovingly trust His leading, and longingly desire His Life and strength.
Pastor Pete Macinta
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© 2004 Peter Macinta
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Used by Cornerstone Assembly Cambridge MD by permission.