Book: Why Were You Born?

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After the Flood in 2369 BC, God made a covenant with Noah and his sons and all the earth to never again flood the world and destroy all life (Gen. 9:1-17). The perpetual sign of that covenant promise is the rainbow. Noah lived an additional 350 years after the Flood. However, approximately 50 years before his death, Satan again persuaded the majority of mankind to rebel against God’s rule. The devil’s human leader, the tyrannical Nimrod, proclaimed himself to be God’s replacement (Gen. 10:8-11). He introduced idolatry, sun worship, and even the worship pf Satan. In fact, Nimrod's idolatrous teachings and practices feature prominently in the religions of today’s world,1 and the apostle Paul described Nimrod’s religion as the “mystery” of lawlessness and iniquity (II Thes. 2:7).

In their defiance against God, Nimrod’s followers united and began to build the tower of Babel: “And they said, ‘Come, let us build us a city and a tower, with its top reaching into the heavens. And let us establish a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered upon the face of the whole earth.’ And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the children of men had built. And the LORD said, ‘Behold, the people are one and they all have one language. And this is only the beginning of what they will do—now nothing which they have imagined to do will be restrained from them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they cannot understand one another’s speech.’ So the LORD scattered them abroad from that place upon the face of all the earth. And they quit building the city. Therefore the name of it is called Babel, because the LORD confused the language of all the earth there. And from there the LORD scattered them abroad upon the face of all the earth” (Gen. 11:4-9).

 

God’s Covenantal Promises to Abraham 

Approximately 430 years after the Flood, God called Abram when he was 75 years old and commanded him to leave the idolatrous Babylonian city of Ur of the Chaldees: “And the LORD said to Abram, ‘Get out of your country, and from your kindred, and from your father’s house into a land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation. And I will bless you and make your name great. And you shall be a blessing. And I will bless those that bless you and curse the one who curses you. And in you shall all families of the earth be blessed.’ Then Abram departed, even as the LORD had spoken to him” (Gen. 12:1-4). 

Few realize that God’s entire plan for mankind, including man’s astounding destiny, is an outgrowth of God’s promises to Abram. Indeed, God’s promises to Abram would ultimately affect “all families of the earth"—meaning every single person—past, present and future! So awesome are God’s promises, and His covenant He established with Abram, that they are the foundation and the reason for the rest of the entire Bible! (God later renamed him Abraham, meaning the “father of many nations.”)

In addition, these Abrahamic promises reach back and are connected to God’s promise to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:15 of the coming Messiah— the Savior of the world. As Creator of the heavens and the earth and of life itself, the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY has the power to fulfill every prophecy and promise He makes! Each promise or prophecy concerning man’s glorious destiny are like pages in a book—which, when turned page by page, reveal various aspects of God’s plan for mankind. Because of the sin of Adam and Eve, God has kept this plan secret “from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 13:35).

God’s covenant with Abraham contained two major promises. The first promise concerned physical seed through Abraham’s own son, Isaac: “And the Word of the LORD came to [Abraham] saying … ‘[He] that shall come forth out of your own loins shall be your heir’ ” (Gen. 15:4). Along with the promise of physical seed was the promise of land—the Promised Land—a physical kingdom.

Those who study the Bible realize that the fulfillment of the first promise came through Isaac—then through Isaac’s son, Jacob, who was the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. Much of the Old Testament contains the histories and future prophecies of Israel and Judah—the descendants of the promised physical seed, a multitude of nations and kings (Gen. 17:1-21). 2

Moreover, the prophesied Messiah—who would come 1925 years after God’s covenant with Abraham—was of the physical seed of David, of the tribe of Judah. The Gospel of Matthew records: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham begat Isaac; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat Judah and his brethren [the other eleven tribes of Israel]” (Matt. 1:1-2).

Jesus had preexisted as God before He became human - "God manifested in the flesh" (Phil. 2:6-8; I Tim. 3:16). (This will be fully explained in Chapter Seven.) The Messiah had to come in the flesh, as this prophecy in Isaiah reveals: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and over His kingdom, to order it and to establish it with judgment and with righteousness from henceforth, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this” (Isa. 9:6-7). 3 As we will see, all of the above is connected to promise number two.

The second promise concerned spiritual seed. “And [God] brought [Abraham] outside and said, ‘Look now toward the heavens and number the stars—if you are able to count them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your seed be.’ And he believed in the LORD. And He accounted it to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:5-6).

God told Abraham to look to the heavens and count the stars—an impossibility! Why would God compare Abraham’s descendants with the stars? As another page is turned in the book of the “mystery of God,” we will see that the heavens are an allusion of eternity and the stars symbolize eternal glory. The prophet Daniel reveals the interpretation of God’s reference to the heavens and the stars when he writes of the time of the end and of the glory of the first resurrection: “And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even until that time [the time of the end]. And at that time your people shall be delivered—every one who shall be found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they who are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and they who turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 12:1-3).

Although Daniel’s words help us to understand God’s second promise to Abraham, the full meaning of the first resurrection, when Jesus returns, could not be understood until the time of the New Testament—the teachings of Christ and the inspired writings of His chosen apostles.

We can get another glimpse of this revelation from the apostle Paul. In speaking of the first resurrection of the dead to eternal life, he adds to the meaning and interpretation of God’s promises to Abraham—first, physical seed; second, spiritual seed. Paul writes: “However, the spiritual was not first, but the natural—then the spiritual. The first man [Adam] is of the earth—made of dust. The second Man [Jesus the Messiah] is the Lord from heaven” (I Cor. 15:46-47). This is the same sequence of God’s promises to Abraham—the physical seed first, the spiritual seed second.

With Daniel’s and Paul’s explanation, we are able to perceive quite clearly that God’s second promise to Abraham—the heavens and the stars— is a symbolic allusion to the spiritual seed. Thus, the second promise is the greater promise. However, in accord with what Paul wrote, the promised spiritual seed can only come from among those who were first of the physical seed—human beings—of “all families of the earth.” Indeed, humans are first made of the dust of the earth, through procreation; but ultimately, through the resurrection, they are made spirit beings.

 

The Covenant Promises Sealed Through

Two Special Sacrifices 

There were two special sacrifices that were made to ratify God’s two covenant promises to Abraham—promises of physical seed and of spiritual seed. The first covenant sacrifice was sealed and ratified by God Himself with a special maledictory oath and unique animal sacrifices (Gen. 15:9-18).4 God instructed Abraham to prepare three animals—splitting them into two halves, from head to tail—and make a path between the parts. To ratify His covenant with Abraham, God alone walked between the halves of the sacrificial animals. By doing so, God essentially pledged His own future death as a guarantee that He would fulfill the covenant promises. Abraham, however, did not walk between the parts of the animals.

Then, 30 years later, God required a second special covenant sacrifice, when Abraham was 115 years old and Isaac was 15 years old. 5 Both Abraham and Isaac were directly involved in this second covenant sacrifice. It is important to read this entire account because it contains so much meaning:

“And it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ And He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you.

“And Abraham rose up early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son. And he split the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up and went to the place of which God had told him. Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off.

“And Abraham said to his young men, ‘You stay here with the donkey, and I and the boy will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.’ And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it upon Isaac his son. And he took the fire pot in his hand, and a knife. And they both went together. And Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, ‘My father.’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ And he said, ‘Behold the fire and the wood. But where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’ And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering.’ So they both went on together. And they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order. And he bound his son Isaac and laid him on the wood, upon the altar. And Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.

“And the angel of the LORD called to him from the heavens and said, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ And He said, ‘Do not lay your hand upon the lad, nor do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.’ And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked. And, behold, behind him a ram was entangled in a thicket by its horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place The LORD Will Provide; so that it is said until this day, 'In the mount of the LORD it will be provided.’

“And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, ‘By Myself have I sworn,’ says the LORD, ‘because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son; that in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens [the spiritual seed—the children of God], and as the sand which is upon the seashore. And your seed [physical seed—the children of Israel] shall possess the gate of his enemies. And in your Seed [Jesus Christ, Gal. 3:14-16] shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice’ ” (Gen. 22:1-18).

While this was a literal covenant sacrifice, there is a great deal of prophetic-spiritual meaning relating to the Messiah’s death. Let us examine the spiritual symbolism connected to this second covenant sacrifice:

 

  • Abraham, at age 115, represented God the Father.
  • Isaac, at age 15, was Abraham’s only begotten son by promise, and represented Jesus the Messiah—God the Father’s only begotten Son.
  • Isaac’s carrying of the wood for the sacrifice was a type of Christ carrying His crucifixion cross.
  • The fact that Isaac was not sacrificed is a demonstration of God’s mercy and  forgiveness of human sin through the resurrected Christ.
  • The ram, as a substitute sacrifice, portrays Jesus’ substitute sacrifice as the “Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” for all repentant sinners—i.e., Christ’s death instead of theirs.

 

God made His covenant promises to Abraham irrevocably binding when He proclaimed: “By Myself have I sworn.” God swore an oath to Abraham using His own eternal existence as His personal covenant pledge that He would fulfill His promises. There can be no greater guarantee than God’s eternal existence! Notice also, with this second covenant sacrifice, that God emphasized the spiritual seed first: “I will multiply your seed like the stars of the heavens.” God then unconditionally pledged the coming of the singular Spiritual Seed—Jesus the Christ—by proclaiming that “in your Seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”6 This Promised Seed would come through Isaac.7

The coming New Covenant through Jesus Christ was made absolutely sure because of Abraham’s obedience to God—as He said to him, “because you have obeyed My voice.” As we will see later, to “obey the voice of God” involves much more than a simple belief in God’s existence.

After the death of Abraham, God appeared to his son, Isaac, and told him why the covenant promises were being passed on to him and his future descendants. What God said is very revealing: “And the LORD appeared to him and said, ‘Do not go down into Egypt. Live in the land which I shall tell you of. Stay in this land, and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your seed, I will give all these lands; and I will establish the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens [the spiritual seed] and will give to your seed [the physical seed] all these lands. And in your seed [the physical seed and the spiritual seed] shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws’ ” (Gen. 26:2-5).

Notice that when God passed the covenant promises on to Isaac, He again emphasized the spiritual seed. This “spiritual seed” has everything to do with the ultimate potential of man!

In the next chapter we will learn about the actual nature of God, which will be a vital key to answering the question, Why were you born?

 

Chapter 5 Notes:

1. Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons

2. For more on this aspect of God’s promises to Abraham, see America and Britain—Their Biblical Origin and Prophetic Destiny, Philip Neal, York Publishing, 2014; available at no cost through www.cbcg.org.

3. Other Old Testament prophecies relating to Jesus include:

Gen. 3:15   Dan. 9:26  Psa. 2:7  

Deut. 18:15   Isa. 7:14   Psa. 22:1, 16-18

Zech. 9:9   Isa. 52:14  Psa. 34:20  

Zech. 12:10   Isa. 53:4-7, 10-12 Psa. 69:21

Zech. 13:7                               Psa. 109:25

 

4. Abraham had been sojourning in the land of Canaan for ten years when he received the promises. Although he believed God, he wanted to know how and when God would fulfill His promises (Gen 15:8.) God responded by instructing Abraham to prepare a special sacrifice by which He would establish a unilateral covenant with Abraham. Specific animals were to be split from head to tail to make a path between the halves  (Gen. 15:9-10). The participants were required to walk the path between the animal parts.

According to covenantal law, a covenant dies not become valid until it has been sealed with a blood sacrifice. The bloody carcasses of the sacrificial animals represented the symbolic death of the one confirming the covenant. By passing between these carcasses, the one who is ratifying the covenant is swearing, by an oath, that if he fails to perform the terms of the covenant he will die, and his blood will be spilled on the ground in the same manner as the animals (see Jeremiah 34 as an example of this type of covenant). Once ratified by this maledictory oath, the terms of the covenant cannot be changed—neither by adding to them nor by diminishing from them.

Unlike the example recorded by Jeremiah, the covenant God established with Abraham did not require the patriarch to participate by passing between the pieces of the animals. When we examine the account in Genesis 15, it is clear that only God passed between the parts of the animals. In fact, from the late afternoon until dark, Abraham slept through the entire sacrificial ceremony in a symbolic “death sleep” Thus, God was demonstrating that He alone was goung to take full responsibility for the fulfillment of the covenant promises.

5. Abraham was 75 when God called him (Gen. 12:4), and 85 when God He alone was goung to take full responsibility for the fulfillment of the Scriptures, the number 40 is indicative of “trial and testing.”

6. The apostle Paul writes of Abraham and this promise: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ did put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither bond nor free; there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:27-29).

7. Concerning the spiritual seed, Paul writes, “Now we, brethren, like Isaac, are the children of promise” (Gal. 4:28).

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