Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 4
NAMES OF DEITY, MOST HIGH
I call Genesis 15 “Israel’s Deed.” You might write it in the margin of your Bible in Chapter 15. This is Israel’s deed. It is just as valid today as it was the day God issued it.
“And he said unto him, `I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.'”
Obviously, Abram was just as human as we are. We take the promises of God by faith, but, being human, we say, “God, prove it.” So, understandably, here is Abram with all these promises. God says, “I’m giving you the land.” Abram asks, “How do I know?
“And he said, `Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it (inherit the land, which is implied in the word `it’)?'”
Few people realize what God does next. Sacrificial animals being parted is the exact custom of transferring real estate in ancient time. From the Tower of Babel, everything was steeped in paganism and animal sacrifice. That wasn’t unique just to Israel. Their system of transferring title deed was exactly what God is doing here on behalf of Abram. What is the reason? – To prove to Abram that God meant what He said. Now God answers Abram and says:
“And he said unto him, `Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.'”
They were to divide the carcasses and lay them with a space in between them. In other words, an alleyway between these carcasses.
“And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst (he split the carcasses as a slaughterhouse does, hanging the beef on the rail and splitting it down the middle), and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.” Naturally, as these carcasses were lying in the open air, birds of prey came in. “And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.”
Occasionally, you’ll find a situation very humorous, even though it is serious. The birds were starting to devour the very thing necessary to the transfer of the title deed. What do you suppose Abraham thought? – “Oh, it’s all going to get muddled up!” So he drove them away. I can see him going up and down trying to scare them away. After all, this is what he had to have for God to transfer deed. So God put Abram to sleep and took care of the situation.
“And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.” Abram was out of it! Now to verse 13 which becomes a vision experience for Abram; however, it doesn’t take away the reality of it.
“And he said unto Abram, `Know of a surety (this is absolute) that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs,…'”
I usually refer to this as the very first statement of prophesy in the Bible. God is telling something before it happens. What is He talking about? – Their sojourn in Egypt, and Abram doesn’t even have his first child! God is already telling him that at some point in time, generations of Abram’s seed would be in Egypt.
“…Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;” How long was Israel in Egypt? – 400 years. “And also that nation (Egypt), whom they shall serve, will I judge:…”
I admit if there’s anything in Scripture I have a hard time understanding, I just say that God is Sovereign. He makes no mistakes. God can raise up a nation to punish Israel, then turn around and reveal His wrath to that nation for misusing the Jew. I can’t comprehend it. When did it happen again? – with Nebuchadnezzar. He got the empire of Babylon rolling. God used him to take Israel out of the land which He had been promising to them for years and years by His prophets. He told them what would happen if they didn’t straighten up, and they didn’t. Along came Nebuchadnezzar who took them out, and took all the Temple wealth with him. So what did God do? He came down on him in His wrath because he misused Israel. I can’t explain it. Likewise, Egypt was the fulfillment of this prophetic statement. Egypt misused the Jew, and then the Jew got in that place because of the bad deportment of the eleven brothers (or at least ten of them). Yet, God came back and literally destroyed the nation of Egypt for the way they handled the Jew. I can’t explain it, but God is Sovereign; He makes no mistakes!
“And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they (the children of Israel) come out with great substance.” Did they? Why, they spoiled Egypt. You know that. It was all in God’s sovereign plan.
“And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.” We know Abraham lived a long time. Verse 16 gives us more prophecy from Abraham’s point in time.
“But in the fourth generation they (the children of Israel) shall come hither (Canaan) again:…”
Think of a generation in terms of 100 years here because it is 400 Years; 430 to be exact. Unless you understand the economy of God, you won’t know what He’s talking about in the next statement.
“…for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.”
What is He saying? Studying this map will help us a little bit.
Here, again, is our Mediterranean Sea coast. Down a way is Egypt and the Nile River. Up along the Nile was Goshen. Up to the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea, is the land of Canaan. Remember that Abram came down from Haran in Syria into the Land of Canaan. He sojourned up and down the highland. Lot, of course, went down to the area of Sodom. But, as Abram is now receiving title deed to the land of Canaan, God is telling him it is going to be 400 plus years before they can actually come in and occupy it. There was a purpose in God not permitting the Canaanites, referred to here as the Amorites, to be removed from the land until the 400 years had gone by. What was that purpose? Their iniquity had not yet reached the full.
It is hard for us to comprehend the patience of God. Remember who the Canaanites’ forefathers were? – Ham and his son, Canaan. These Canaanites started on an immoral plane right off the bat, and kept going down, and down, and down. God is telling Abram He is going to give them 400 years; that by that time they will have gone down so far that in all justice He will be able to tell the children of Israel to clean them out and not spare one; that the land was theirs (the Israelites).
Did God do it? Yes! Do you remember when Joshua came in from the east and made that circuitous route out of their wilderness journey? They crossed the Jordan River just above the Dead Sea. The first city they came up against was Jericho. But before they crossed the River Jordan, God gave explicit instructions to the Nation of Israel not to leave a single Canaanite alive. Unfair? Unjust? No, because they have had 400 years to clean up their act. But instead of cleaning it up they degenerated down, down, down until finally God, in justice, could tell Israel not to spare one; that unless they cleansed the land of them, in just a little while they would be just like them. What happened? Israel got softhearted. Israel just couldn’t put those people to death, but saw the better part of making servants of them. They assimilated the Canaanites into their very lifestyle.
A couple of generations later they turned their backs on Jehovah, and were headlong after the gods of the Canaanites. We know their god as Baal. Let’s look at an example. Turn with me to Jeremiah. It is absolutely unbelievable that Israel, this Covenant people, with all the miracle working of God as a fabric of their lifestyle, would come to this place. This is exactly what God knew would happen if they spared the Canaanites. In the following verse the Israelites are responding to Jeremiah’s plea to come back to Jehovah.
“As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven,…”
When you see the term `queen of Heaven’ it immediately tells you it was the worship of the female goddesses. Whenever it got into the worship of the female goddesses, the immorality hit new lows for some reason or other.
“and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then (while they were in active worship of these female goddesses) had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.” That was a lie. It was just the opposite.
“But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?”
Jeremiah goes on and almost bewails the fact, that Israel could sink to such a low spiritual condition that they would burn incense and pour out drink offerings to this female goddess. Not too much later they got so involved in idolatry that they actually offered their own little children into the fire as offerings and sacrifices to these pagan gods. This is why God tells Abraham in Genesis 15 that the children of Israel would have to wait 400 years, so that these Canaanites would finally reach the epitome of their wickedness. Then God, in justice, could tell Joshua to not spare one. But, the Jews did. The result is as we saw in Jeremiah 44. Let’s continue. Turn with me back to Genesis:
“And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces.”
Who is that burning lamp? It is The Lord. He goes down between the halves of those carcasses. By doing so, He is fulfilling the ancient ceremony of transferring title deed. When Israel tonight says the land has been deeded to them, this is what they come back to. Although I have not heard the present day leadership say anything, when Prime Minister Menachem Begin was in power he would constantly refer to the fact that the land had been deeded to them, and that it was theirs. I agree. You cannot refute the Word of God. This is God’s Title Deed to the Middle East for the Nation of Israel.
“In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given…”
The verb is past tense, meaning it was done; it was accomplished in the previous verses. Look what God has deeded to Abraham.
“…I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites,” And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”
According to the tribes listed in this Chapter, Israel will have everything from northern Lebanon, out to the Euphrates River, cutting across the Arabian Peninsula, and all the way over to the River of Egypt. I don’t think it is referring to the Nile. I think there was another river a little bit east. But it doesn’t make that much difference. Do you see how much of the Middle East God deeded to Abraham? The whole shebang! Not just to the Jordan River, not just without the West Bank, but it has all, already been deeded. It is theirs; however, Israel will not enjoy this to the full until the Millennial Kingdom when Christ returns and Israel will finally get all of the land promised to them. They are not going to get it all now. I think they will be lucky to hang on to everything west of the Jordan River in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, don’t forget the fact that when it is all done, Israel is going to have a homeland that goes all the way to the Euphrates River, and all the way down to the River of Egypt, and all the way up to Northern Lebanon. It has all been deeded. God never goes back on His word. This is a Covenant He made with Abram that is all part and parcel of that Abrahamic Covenant.
Watch the Middle East. Right now there is a lot of pressure to get Israel to come to a so-called Peace Conference. There can be no peace in the Middle East until Christ returns. There may be a pseudo peace. There may be a makeshift peace of some kind, but there is not going to be any genuine peace in the Middle East. It is absolutely unforeseeable in the light of Scripture. Israel is going to have to stand her ground. The Arabs can do all they want to. I have said many times before that we can identify, we can empathize with the Arab people. It is home to them now. We know that. The fact remains that it is promised, it is deeded to the Nation of Israel. Look again at our map of the land promised to Israel on page 59.
Let’s go into Chapter 16. Again, we don’t want to go too far because the main thrust of this lesson between Ishmael and Isaac is going to take this full chapter.
“NOW Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.”
File that in your computer because this is going to tell you something in regard to the present day Middle East situation.
“And Sarai said unto Abram, `Behold now, the Lord (Jehovah) hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her.’ And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.”
Today we would call that surrogate motherhood. It was nothing new. It was a prevalent custom in the Orient. In the ancient cultures, to be childless was anathema. There was nothing a woman dreaded more than to be left childless. To compensate for it their custom allowed that if a woman could not bear on her own, she could have a slave girl actually bear a child on her behalf. This is exactly what happens here. It is not that they were being unduly sinful or immoral. They were acting according to custom, even as we saw the Title Deed transfer according to custom in our last chapter. There is one thing I want to emphasize. Who have they left out? God! God has not said one word about having a child by way of a slave girl. This is what we call the energy of the flesh. This was Sarai’s idea, and Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
“And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.”
You can see the human side, can’t you? For ten years they have been waiting for God’s promise to come to fruition. Ten years ago God promised that Abram and Sarai would have a child, by which the Nation of Israel would come on the scene. Nothing has happened, so they take things into their own hands.
“And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived (that is when Hagar realized she was now pregnant): and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.”
Again, you must get the mentality of the people. When this little slave girl realized she had accomplished something her mistress could not, she got puffed up, arrogant and impossible.
“And Sarai said unto Abram, `My wrong be upon thee (she saw what a horrible mistake she made): I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee (Abraham is going to pass the buck right back).’ But Abram said unto Sarai, `Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee.’ And when Sarai dealt hardly (harshly) with her, she fled from her face.”
Sarai must have really made life miserable for that little Egyptian girl, who has to flee in order to get out from under Sarai’s harsh behavior.
“And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur.”
Whenever you see the term `the angel of the LORD,’ it is Jehovah. I stick by that because in Chapter 48, the term is used `the angel of the LORD who redeemeth me.’ There is only one Redeemer in Scripture. It is God the Son; Jehovah in the Old Testament, Christ in the New Testament. When you see the term `angel of the LORD,’ or `angel of God,’ it is God the Son, the Redeemer. Never lose sight of that as it will come up every once in awhile.