February 28, 2014
A couple of quick notes before we get started today. Last week I opened up by talking about our Sunday gatherings being available by telephone conference call. Because I neglected to mention the beginning time of the call, it created a lot of confusion and many folks called in to find nothing available. To top it off, we had phone issues which interfered with the process and those who did listen in were treated to a fairly distorted call with very poor audio. Those issues have been resolved, and if you would like to participate with us this Sunday (or on future Sundays) we trust you will be able to listen to very clear and clean audio.
To repeat what I said last week, we gather from house to house on Sundays, meeting in a different home each Sunday reaching from Prosser to Ellensburg. The spiritual dynamic in the home setting far transcends anything you'll ever get in a traditional "church" setting. That said, the number to call (should you like to join us) is (559) 726-1300, and the access code is: 308640#. We are usually "live" on the conference call by 12:30 PM Pacific (3:30 PM Eastern) or very shortly thereafter.
A couple weeks ago we began paving the way for a discussion on the Table of the Lord as a picture of multiplication, and that picture has many facets. Today, let's begin by going back to the beginning of the Blessing of the Lord, and the way it first appeared in the Garden.
Genesis 1:28-30: And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to everything that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
The Blessing that God pronounced upon Adam didn’t end with dominion; it incorporated total provision for Adam – AND total provision for everything under Adam’s care and dominion. We need this revelation in order to properly understand just what God was declaring and decreeing for Adam.
The original Blessing including the following:
1. To be fruitful (parah) to increase and increase and increase. The framework of this word is that there is no end in sight – in other words, no death.
2. To multiply – (rabah) this is God’s concept for multiplication – having authority over the entire domain where multiplication takes place; to abound beyond one’s capacity to store up; to excel in every area.
3. To replenish – (malé) to fill up, to furnish, to restore to a place of total satisfaction and completeness.
4. To subdue – (kabash) to conquer, to subjugate, to tread down, to bring under firm control.
5. To have dominion – (radah) to prevail against, to rule over, to take possession of.
6. To have every provision for food and for life.
7. To have not only provision for the “now” but for the future in the form of seed for planting.
Notice what happens to the Blessing, however, when Adam and Eve sin and are cast out of the Garden. It vanishes. Virtually every part of the Blessing is reversed.
But watch how the promise of God specifically to Eve provides not only the hope but the actual expectation of the return of the Blessing. Her seed will crush the head of the serpent!
Genesis 3:14-19: And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise (shuph – overwhelm, cover [figuratively, to grind]) thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; 1) in sorrow (‘etseb – painful toil) thou shalt bring forth children; and 2) thy desire (teshuqah – stretching out after, longing for) shall be to thy husband, and 3) he shall rule (mashal – govern, have power over) over thee.
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: 4) cursed (‘arar – to execrate; this is reverse of the blessing) is the ground for thy sake; 5) in sorrow (itstsabon – pain, worrisome toil, to carve or fabricate with hard labor) shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 7) Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 8) In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and 9) unto dust shalt thou return.
Are you seeing it?
The first thing to happen for Eve was the loss of ease in bringing forth children. What was – up to that time – easy and painless now became laborious and painful.
Eve also lost her position of co-equality and partnership with her husband. Now he would be her ruler, and she would answer to him in everything. For Adam, because he didn’t cover his wife, immediately reject the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and ask God to forgive her, he lost his dominion over the earth. It became cursed under him, bringing thorns and thistles (weeds) became a plague to his efforts to plant and bring forth a harvest.
The earth would still bring forth; seed would still be there, and life would still be in the fruit of the tree and the grain harvested, but in order to see that harvest, Adam would now have to work the ground in hard labor. No more would the trees which came forth of the Tree of Life be the primary source of his sustenance: now he would have to plant fields and eat the herb of the field in order to sustain life.
This was the condition of the earth, therefore, for some 1500+ years until Noah found grace in the sight of the Lord. Noah’s secret in seeing the blessing of the Lord restored to him came because of his obedience IN EVERYTHING God commanded!
Genesis 6:22: Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he.
Notice, now, the very next thing that Noah does – and how the Lord responds because of Noah’s act.
Genesis 8:20-22: And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a sweet savour; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more everything living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
Noah’s first act after leaving the Ark was to worship the Lord, to build an altar to the Lord and to offer up as burnt offerings one of every clean beast and every clean bird. And because Noah was obedient in every respect to the Word of the Lord to him, we are told the following:
Genesis 9:1-3: And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
Now God is going to take this a step farther with Noah. Not only has the blessing been restored, now God makes a covenant with Noah.
Genesis 9:8-11: And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying, And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you; And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth. And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there anymore be a flood to destroy the earth.
So Noah and his three sons, Shem, Ham & Japheth, all become recipients of God’s Blessing and Covenant – and the Blessing is restored in the earth.
But something happens to bring the curse back. As the years go by, Noah plants a vineyard and begins to produce wine. One night he drinks far too much wine and gets himself drunk.
Ham, the middle of the three sons, walks into his father’s tent and finds him uncovered. He, unfortunately, had been contaminated by the some of the same sin that brought the wrath of God upon the human race and caused its total destruction. Ham commits a homosexual act upon his father, taking advantage of his father’s drunken state and inability to resist Ham’s act, and then comes out of the tent and (the Hebrew word used in the Genesis 9:22 text is: nagad: to boldly declare, to brag, to expose, to announce or rehearse with praise) brags to Shem and Japheth what he has done.
Shem takes the lead, and with Japheth immediately takes a cloak and – walking backwards into the tent – goes and covers their father. Verse 24 tells us that Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his son “had done unto him.”
Now a curse is going to return into the earth.
Because God had specifically pronounced the Blessing upon Ham, Noah didn’t revoke that Blessing, but instead pronounced the curse upon Ham’s firstborn son, Canaan.
Genesis 9:25: And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
But Noah takes it a step farther by pronouncing the same Blessing that he had received of God upon Shem.
Genesis 9:26-27: And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
Thus, Shem becomes the dominant Blessing in the earth. Canaan becomes a slave to Shem and his descendants, Japheth lives in the dwellings and dwelling-places established by Shem, and Canaan also becomes servant to Japheth.
In the 1840’s, British explorer and archaeologist Sir. John Gardner Wilkinson was digging through some ruins of ancient cities in Canaan when he discovered a clay tablet outlining some of Shem’s history. Though not recounted in Scripture the writings on the tablet told how, following Nimrod’s rebellion against God, Shem took a band of twelve men from the citadel of Salem he had established and hunted Nimrod into Egypt where he had fled following the Tower of Babel fiasco. (Ancient Egyptians, Vol 4, pp 330-332)
Shem killed Nimrod, cut his body into twelve pieces and sent a piece with each of the men who had accompanied him to the kings or leaders of each of the twelve nations inhabiting the region. With each piece of Nimrod’s body came this message: “Thus shall it be done to those who rise up against God.”
The fear of Shem came upon the inhabitants of the land, and they began thereafter to refer to Shem as Malkiy—Tsedeq: (the King of Righteousness). We know this title (it is not a name) better in its Anglicized form: Melchizedek. He was characterized by the phrase, “without beginning or end of days” because he pre-dated the Flood, and because he continued to live in the land and exercise both authority and power until the year that Joseph was 17 and sold into slavery in Egypt.
Meanwhile, Shem’s great-great-great (10 generations removed) grandson, Abraham was called by God out of Ur of the Chaldees — the first time at either age 50 or age 55. [Note: If Abraham was first called at age 55, and began to respond to God, he was given 120 years to live from that point in his life.) (See Acts 7:2-4)
For some 300-plus years, the Blessing had been resident and manifested in the earth in the person of Shem. We know from Genesis 9:1 and 26 that God had blessed Noah and Shem; and that following the grace Shem showed in the face of his brother’s sin against Noah their father, Noah declared and reinforced the Blessing upon Shem. It was not resident or manifest anywhere else in the earth.
Following Abram’s victory against the armies of the four most powerful kings in the world of that era, as he returned from battle, Shem — in the position and Godly title of Melchizedek — came out to meet him with the symbols of Covenant: bread and wine.
Genesis 14:18-20: And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
God had promised to bless Abraham IF he would be obedient to the command of the Lord (Genesis 12) and follow Him in the land where God led and showed him. And God kept that promise beginning with the last person to receive the blessing in the earth: Shem/Melchizedek.
Shem, acting as the priest of the Most High God in the title, rank and office of Melchizedek, was the first person to actually speak the Blessing over Abraham. The fact that he met Abraham with the symbols of Covenant meant that God’s Covenant of Blessing was being established in him. Never before had God made a covenant with a man of this nature. Yes, He had covenanted with Noah never to again destroy the earth, but that was a wholly different kind of covenant. This Covenant Blessing would be a Melchizedek Blessing — one to which the apostle Paul would later refer. (See Hebrews 6:20)
The Covenant with Abraham was to be one that would affect every part of his life, and that of his children, grandchildren, and every generation to follow — FOR EVER! This Covenanted Blessing would essentially give to Abraham all the benefits of Eden.
1. He would never lack for anything.
2. His household would prosper.
3. He would never suffer sickness or disease.
4. He would be fruitful.
5. He would multiply.
6. Nations would come forth of his loins.
7. He would have such dominion that other kings would request a covenant of peace from him.
8. His enemies would be under his feet.
9. His name would become so great because of his relationship with God that anyone who blessed him (or his seed) would be blessed by God.
10. By the same token, all who cursed him or rose up against him (or his seed) would suffer the judgment of God.
Consider now, the character of this Blessing. It was so great that Paul tells us the following:
Galatians 3:6-9, 13-14: Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.
Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
He reinforces this with his general letter to the Hebrews when he writes:
Galatians 3:6-9, 13-14: For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.
There's more -- a lot more -- to share on the Blessings of the Lord as a part of the Table of the Lord, and we'll continue with this next week.
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Blessings on you!
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