Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 04/12/09
I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. (ROM 9:1-5)
It is never entitlement of the flesh that satisfies God but regeneration and positive volition, and this is why the first-born will not inherit the blessing for the first five generations of the Jew. Not only would this be true for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and his sons, but for all Israel. If you were born a Levite you were a part of the priesthood, but this did not necessarily guarantee that at the point of God consciousness that you believed in the Lord as your Savior. This is what gives Paul such incredible sorrow to the point that he wished he could be accursed for their sake.
After listing all the amazing things that God had given to Israel as grace gifts, and after recognizing that they had rejected them, much like himself before he was knocked off his high horse, Paul doesn’t miss the chance to give praise and glory to the One who gave all those grace gifts at the cost of His life. No matter what rejections occur in this life, whether you perform them, your loved ones perform them, or your enemies plot them, there is always one constant that cannot go unrecognized, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Satan attacks those who are under the authority of the ones he wishes to destroy. Satan deceived Ishmael, Esau, and most of Jacob’s sons. The defense for these attacks is simple, yet extremely affective. Keep your heart focused on the simplicity and purity of your relationship with Christ. Don’t get caught up with the rejection from loved ones, or their failures that you allow your mind to be led astray from the simplicity and purity of your relationship with Christ.
But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; neither are they all children because they are Abraham's descendants, but: through Isaac your descendants will be named. (Rom (9:6-7)
It seemed that Isaac came close to naming the wrong one. However, it was God’s plan, and no matter how much scheming Jacob and Rebekah did it was a foregone conclusion in the mind of God. This is the doctrine of the divine decree. Omniscience knows the final outcome before it happens, and time is of no issue to God. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (2PE 3:8). As we read about these great, and not so great, men and women in the Bible we have to conclude that God has a heart for the dramatic. Even as God opens up the first act with the restoration of the earth, and seemingly losing with the fall of man, God makes it crystal clear that He will accomplish all His good pleasure. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel” (GEN 3:15).Yet how did God the Father choose to accomplish the final defeat of the villain? It was through the God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ, the true Hero (HEB 10:1-7). So sit back and enjoy the show believer, and God will give you a part that is scripted for you to be a hero. Rest in the promises of God. He will accomplish it. He is all and in all. He is the beginning and the end. His will be done (ISA 46:8-13).
Again, ROM 9:8 says, That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. For this is a word of promise: “At this time I will come, and Sarah shall have a son.” To illustrate the unwavering promises of God Paul has to look no farther than the ones who started it all, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their wives. We have studied Sarah, and her bitterness and jealousy. A wife without the ability to produce an heir. Yet she was promised through Abraham back in Gen 12, and promised again and again over several years (GEN 12:1-3; GEN 12:10-14; GEN 13:14-18; GEN 15:1-8; GEN 15:12-18). After promising Abraham the fulfillment of this covenant four times, Abraham is still unbelieving. God repeats His word to us as many times as we need it, and He never tires of encouraging us with His promises. However, there comes a time that God sees that we need a little extra help with our faith.
Certainly Abraham was in desperate need of this help, and God provided it by being silent to Abraham for 13 years. Between Gen 15 and 18 there is a span of 13 years without a word from God. In Gen 15 Abraham was once again promised to be the father of a great many people, and Abraham did believe God in verse 6, but soon after was filled with fear and doubt all over again. We all go through these peaks and valleys in the spiritual life. This may even be necessary, if we were always on top we’d turn into the most arrogant people alive. If it weren’t for the valleys of life we would never learn how weak we are, and how powerful God is. The relationship is just between you and Him. He is your Abba Father. You are the apple of His eye. He is your God and nothing in the world can compare to this relationship in your soul.
God has been silent with Abraham for over 13 years. The Lord returned in Gen 17 to show Abraham that he was now ready and the promise was given to Abraham again. In Gen 18 the Lord returns again soon after, and notice the excitement Abraham has now that the Lord is back. Now the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day. And when he lifted up his eyes and looked, behold, three men were standing opposite him; and when he saw them, he ran from the tent door to meet them, and bowed himself to the earth, and said, “My lord, if now I have found favor in your sight, please do not pass your servant by. Please let a little water be brought and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree; and I will bring a piece of bread, that you may refresh yourselves; after that you may go on, since you have visited your servant.” And they said, “So do, as you have said.” So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah, and said, “Quickly, prepare three measures of fine flour, knead it, and make bread cakes.” Abraham also ran to the herd, and took a tender and choice calf, and gave it to the servant; and he hurried to prepare it. And he took curds and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and placed it before them; and he was standing by them under the tree as they ate. (GEN 18:1-15)
Now it’s time to deal with Sarah:
Then they said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “There, in the tent.” He said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in age; Sarah was past childbearing. Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?” And the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?’ “Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” Sarah denied it however, saying, “I did not laugh”; for she was afraid. And He said, “No, but you did laugh.” Then the men rose up from there, and looked down toward Sodom; and Abraham was walking with them to send them off. The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed?
The child of promise would be called Isaac, which means laughter, because Sarah laughed, and his name would be a constant reminder to her that she once laughed at God’s promise, but now finds God faithful. We will all learn this lesson because God is going to show us the big picture, and that picture consists of His character and nature. In Rom 9 we have God’s sovereignty and God’s grace, and we have the players within the big picture, the patriarchs of Israel and their successes and blunders. ROM 9:10-13, And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God's purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Verse 11 is where we are in our study. In order to understand this verse, and the rest of what is written in this passage, there are two doctrines that you must be clear on. The doctrine of the divine decree, and the doctrine of election. These are major doctrines in the word of God, and can become quite technical. We are not going to go into the technical aspects of these doctrines, but we are going to define them and learn some overall principles about them so that we can have a basic understanding of what they are. For though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God's purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls (ROM 9:11). The Greek word “hina” means “in order that.” The phrase “God’s purpose” is the nominative singular subject from “prothesis” plus “theos” meaning “the pre-determined plan from God.” This refers to the operation of all things according to God’s divine decree. This is why we must understand the doctrine of the divine decree. The phrase “according to His choice” in the Greek is “kata” plus the accusative singular of “eklego” meaning “in relationship to election.” This is why we must understand election. Without understanding of these doctrines many have falsely understood this passage to mean that God operates in double pre-destination, which means that God pre-destined Jacob to heaven and pre-destined Esau to hell. This is where hyper-Calvinism is today and it is completely blasphemous and rejects the character and nature of God.
God has omniscience and foreknowledge, and God knew that Jacob would become a believer and therefore have election, and Esau would reject salvation and have condemnation. Definition - The decree of God refers to His eternal (always existed), Holy (perfect integrity), wise (the application of Omniscience to creation), and sovereign purpose. This means that God simultaneously comprehended all things that ever were or ever would be. He comprehended every event, their causes and their interaction with other events, including every decision we would ever make. The Omniscience of God expresses the source of these decrees. It also expresses the attributes of God in terms of Divine will in human history. God knew simultaneously in eternity past everything that would ever happen in human history (the thoughts, actions, and decisions of every person). Because our understanding is limited, we perceive these things only in partial aspects that comes from Scripture. Therefore, we classify the decrees as being plural, but in reality there is only one decree.
For though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God's purpose [pre-designed plan according to the divine decrees] according to His choice [His election of Israel] might stand, not because of works [Jacob neither earned or deserved election, he had non-meritorious faith in TLJC], but because of Him who calls, (ROM 9:11)
Election: The omniscience of God providing God’s highest and best to the believer. This applies to believers only. Election excludes all human works. Election forms a circle around you and excludes your human personality as the basis of pleasing God. Election cuts out the nonsense about blessing. You cannot be blessed because of your works, you cannot be blessed because of your personality, you cannot be blessed because you have become a very moral, upright pillar of society. Election is a printout designed to say that there is only one thing that attracts divine blessing: your imputed righteousness or justification. That is the only thing. In election, God not only imputes divine righteousness, but He deposits in escrow blessings that go beyond our imagination. Jacob would be elected to be the father of the tribes of Israel. This was his output from the computer of divine decrees because he believed in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior. Esau was not elected but condemned because he chose to reject Jesus Christ as Savior. Esau will become the father of a nation called Edom, which will be full of unbelievers who are also condemned. So, election is for the believer only. In election, God not only imputes divine righteousness, but He deposits in escrow blessings that go beyond our imagination. Election is God’s desire to impute to your life His highest and best for you. Jacob would be elected to be the father of the tribes of Israel because he believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jacob will not experientially realize the fruition of his election until he grows up to super-grace which will take most of his life. But when he does, much like his father Isaac, he will do something that shows his super-grace status and will bring maximum glory to God. For this action, which is the result of his final push to maturity, he is in the hall of fame in HEB 11:21, By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.
Let’s look at this event and notice how Jacob does an amazing thing at the end of his life that results from his super-grace status. Like his father Isaac, Jacob will enter the hall of fame because of his decision in blessing two brothers. When Israel saw Joseph's sons, he said, “Who are these?” And Joseph said to his father, “They are my sons, whom God has given me here.” So he said, “Bring them to me, please, that I may bless them.” Now the eyes of Israel were so dim from age that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them close to him, and he kissed them and embraced them. And Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face, and behold, God has let me see your children as well.” Then Joseph took them from his knees, and bowed with his face to the ground. And Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel's left, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel's right, and brought them close to him. But Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh's head, crossing his hands, although Manasseh was the first-born. And he blessed Joseph, and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, The God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, Bless the lads; And may my name live on in them, And the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; And may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim's head, it displeased him; and he grasped his father's hand to remove it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. And Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the first-born. Place your right hand on his head.” But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know; he also shall become a people and he also shall be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations.” And he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel shall pronounce blessing, saying, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh!’” Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh. (GEN 48:8-20)
Remember, Manasseh was the eldest and Ephraim was the youngest. He made his approach to a nearly blind dying father so that Manasseh would come under that right hand of blessing. This was to be the double portion for the eldest son. But through doctrine resident in his soul, when Jacob saw what he did, he crossed his hands over immediately. When he crossed them he gave Ephraim, the youngest son, the double portion blessing. The crossed hands, therefore, illustrates the manner in which every believer receives grace blessing from God. We receive the blessings of the firstborn.
There are two things that can be taught from this: 1) God does not bless according to the flesh (the fact that someone is first-born), but rather through regeneration. 2) Jesus Christ was judged for our sins on the Cross that we might have the righteousness belonging to Christ. Christ is the firstborn; He is judged, He is cast out. In effect, Manasseh is cast out.
So Manasseh is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the cross He was bearing our sins in His own body on the tree. God the Father crossed His hands and placed the right hand upon us (blessing of the first born) and the left hand upon Christ (the curse that we deserved). However, once He bore the curse He was elevated and glorified to sit at the right hand of God forever.
The story of the crossed hands is in one verse: He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2CO 5:21).
God does not bless the line of natural birth and privilege, but God blesses the line of regeneration, the spiritual line. Always God blesses man by means of grace. That means that the natural line of privilege, of ability, is never the basis for God’s blessing. It is always the spiritual line. That is why Jesus said, Ye must be born again. So it is the spiritual line that becomes the beneficiary of grace — saving grace, living grace, supergrace, dying grace, surpassing grace. And again the principle, the elder shall serve the younger.
This is a test of the inner residency of doctrine, and note the consistency of doctrine in the ascendancy. We have Seth over Cain, Abraham over Haran, Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Joseph over Rueben, Ephraim over Manasseh. This is a principle of grace, a principle that could not be broken, a title that could not be broken, and only a dying supergrace man had the wisdom to cross his hands and therefore counteract what Joseph had done.