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The Covenant & the Cross

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This podcast is designed to help you better understand the Word of God — both the Old and New Testaments. The Old Testament is the story of the Covenant which God made with His chosen people Israel. And the New Testament is the story of the Cross which signifies the fulfillment of the Old Covenant with Israel and the formation of a New Covenant with redeemed people from many nations.

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Jacob and his Tribes, Part 2 (The Covenant & the Cross #56) #VA7

Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 27:1-4 which reads: “And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I. And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death: Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison; And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die.”

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Reformation Study Bible by Dr. R.C. Sproul:

The theme of family conflict, between the parents and between the twins, now becomes full-blown in pursuit of the patriarch’s blessing. Isaac depended on his fallible senses rather than divine guidance, and Rebekah used deception. Esau broke his oath and Jacob blasphemously lied. Though the blessing is passed on according to God’s good pleasure, the divine verdict on their actions is pronounced in the disastrous consequences: Esau resolved to murder Jacob and Jacob fled the land. Rebekah died without memorial, and Isaac lived on without significance.

Implicit here is a contrast between Abraham, who in faith provided for Isaac’s future according to God’s elective purposes, and Isaac, who seems to have made no attempt to find suitable wives for his sons, and who tried to thwart the divine election.

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Karl Paul Donfried. He said: “The one thing the New Testament forbids us to do is to treat it as a static document to be used as a set of proof-texts for instant solutions to complex and controversial contemporary problems. To misuse the New Testament in this way is to deny its dynamic character and to fail to realize that the Word has to be applied in a specific context. …A static interpretation of the New Testament is dependent on a frozen Christology.”

Our topic for today is titled “Jacob and his Tribes” (Part 2) from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin. And, I want to remind you to take advantage of our special offer. If you enjoy this podcast, please feel free to purchase a copy of this book — “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin. It is available on our website for just $20. You can make your purchase today at covenantandcrosspodcast.com.

He goes on to say…

Isaac blessing Jacob (Horst, Gerrit Willemsz)
Isaac blessing Jacob (Horst, Gerrit Willemsz)

Sometime later, Isaac, getting on in years, realized that he was nearing death. The text does not indicate how old he was at this point; however, by carefully piecing together other chronological data, we estimate his age to have been about 136. (According to Genesis 35:28, he would then live another forty-four years.) But the text also notes that he was blind, which may have contributed to his foreboding. He therefore planned to bless his favorite son, Esau. Before he did so, however, he asked Esau to go hunt for some wild game to make a savory dish. As the account unfolds, we find Rebekah scheming with Jacob to prepare similar food from a kid. She disguised Jacob as his older brother, using Esau’s clothes; she also used the hair from the kid to emulate Esau’s hairy skin. The charade succeeded, and Jacob received the blessing that was intended for Esau.

The relationship of the meal to the blessing is unclear. There is only one other instance of an aged father blessing his son before he dies, and that is the same Jacob later in this same book. In that case, there is no mention of a meal. In fact, Isaac’s blessing itself raises questions. Clearly, it is distinguished from the birthright. The issue is especially confusing when we see the content of the blessing. For the most part, what Isaac said to Jacob indicated a life of prosperity, a “blessing” that easily could have been given to Esau as well (with the caveat that he would, indeed, serve his brother). So why did Isaac assert to Esau that the blessing was gone?

We find a key in the final phrase of the blessing: “May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.” The relationship of this phrase to the promise God gave Abraham in Genesis 12 suggests that perhaps what we are seeing is the insertion of this son into the line of the Abrahamic covenant. That would explain the distinction between blessing and birthright. It would also help explain why, after the death of Jacob, no blessings are recorded. After that time, all descendants of Jacob were included in the line of blessing, that is, the line of the Abrahamic covenant.

Jacob had no more than left his father’s tent after receiving the blessing when Esau showed up with a savory dish made from the game he had brought back. At that point, Isaac realized what had happened and acknowledged that Jacob had indeed been given the blessing. After tremendous protest, Esau talked his father into giving him a “blessing” also. This, like the blessing given to his brother, was really a prophetic declaration regarding his descendants. It had its positive aspects, but it pales in comparison to the promise that had been given to Jacob. Esau was furious. Suspecting that his father was on his deathbed (and certainly Jacob’s fraud would seem to hasten the event along), Esau let it be known that once Isaac was gone, Jacob would also be history. At that point, Rebekah intervened again.

The Call of Moses (The Covenant & the Cross #64) #VA5

Today’s passage of Scripture is Exodus 3:1-4 which reads: “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from the translators to the readers of the original 1611 King James Bible. They wrote: “We do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession… containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God: as the King’s speech which he uttered in Parliament, being translated into French, Dutch, Italian, and Latin, is still the King’s speech, though it not be interpreted by every translator with the like grace nor peradventure so fitly for phrase, nor so expressly for sense, everywhere.”

Our topic for today is titled “The Call of Moses” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

The OT covers the four-hundred-year period in Egypt in a single chapter, Exodus 1. From the perspective of the biblical writer, not much significant happened during that period. There was a dynastic change, and the status of the Israelites slipped from guests to slaves.

Meanwhile, their population grew, prompting an Egyptian backlash. This sets the stage for the birth of Moses. Most of us are familiar with the account of the birth of Moses and how his mother managed to hide his existence. When we read the text carefully, we realize that she was aware of the daily routine of the daughter of Pharaoh and of her personality. The infant was placed in a basket amid the “bullrushes” or reeds, a shallow place away from the current. Miriam, Moses’ older sister, stood watching, wondering what would happen. The daughter of Pharaoh chose to defy her father’s decree and took the child to the palace. We have no idea about her motivation, but if the woman was Hatshepsut, this act would seem to go along with her personality. Perhaps this was her way of getting back at her husband for fathering a son by a concubine.

The boy Moses grew up in the palace and in that situation undoubtedly received a fine education. Most likely he learned to read and write Egyptian, Akkadian, and Hebrew. Sometime after reaching adulthood, he began to think for himself, and he tried to intervene on behalf of his people. This resulted in the death of an Egyptian overseer, and Moses fled to the desert. There he met Jethro, also named Reuel. Jethro was a priest of God—apparently the same God the Israelites served. He was also a herder of sheep, and it was through his daughters and his flocks that he met Moses when the latter intervened on behalf of the daughters at the watering trough.

The Passover Event (The Covenant & the Cross #66) #VA4

Today’s passage of Scripture is Exodus 12:5-7 which reads: “Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Michael Horton. He said: “To preach the Bible as ‘the handbook for life,’ or as the answer to every question, rather than as the revelation of Christ, is to turn the Bible into an entirely different book. This is how the Pharisees approached Scripture, as we can see clearly from the questions they asked Jesus. For the Pharisees, the Scriptures were a source of trivia for life’s dilemmas.”

Our topic for today is titled “The Passover Event” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

The last “plague” is given special attention because it was so much more than just a plague. Rather, it was the foundation for a ritual that would become the religious foundation of Israel to this day. God told Moses that after this event, Pharaoh would let the people go. In preparation of this freedom, the people were to perform a ritual, which was then to be repeated annually as a reminder of God’s work on behalf of His people.

The first Passover event began with the selection of a lamb. It was to be chosen on the tenth of the month of Nisan, the lunar month that begins the religious year for Israel. This lamb was to have no defects and might be either a sheep or a goat.

Each family was to select a lamb unless the family was too small, in which case several neighbors were to share one. The reason is that there were to be no leftovers after it was cooked. The lamb was to be kept until the fourteenth day of the month of Nisan (the night of the full moon). At twilight the head of the family was to kill the lamb and save its blood. Some of the blood was to be painted on the door posts and lintel of the house. The lamb was then to be roasted whole (insuring that no bones were broken). With the lamb, the people were to eat bitter herbs. As God laid out this ritual, He made clear that it was to be performed annually to remind the people of their deliverance from Egypt. Each member of the family was to be fully dressed and prepared for a journey as he or she ate. Previously, the Israelites had been told to request gold, silver, and jewelry from the Egyptians. Through God’s intervention, the Egyptians acceded to the request. While we are not told specifically, we can safely assume that the Israelites were also all packed and ready for a rapid flight from Egypt.

Joseph in Egypt, Part 1 (The Covenant & the Cross #60) #VA3

Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 39:2-4 which reads: “And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Napoleon Bonaparte. He said: “The Bible is no mere book, but a Living Creature, with a power that conquers all that oppose it.”

Our topic for today is titled “Joseph in Egypt” (Part 1) from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

Now the author returns to Joseph in Egypt. There are three phases of his life there. The first phase was his time as a slave in the house of Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard. God caused Joseph to prosper while he was working in this household, so Potiphar gave everything into his hands, worrying only about what he would have for his next meal. After some time, Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce the young lad, who resisted her advances. Rejected, she accused him of attacking her, and Potiphar had Joseph put into prison.

The second phase of Joseph’s life in Egypt was the period he spent in prison. Even there he prospered and was put in charge of other prisoners. When Pharaoh’s chief butler and baker were cast into prison, they had dreams, which Joseph interpreted for them as prophetic. The interpretations were correct, and as Joseph predicted, the butler was returned to his office but the baker was executed. The butler promptly forgot his helper.

Two years later, Pharaoh had two dreams that paralleled each other. Pharaoh’s dream interpreters were totally baffled, and he was frustrated. However, the butler finally remembered Joseph, who was cleaned up and brought out of the prison. Through God’s guidance, Joseph interpreted the dreams as foretelling seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. He also gave advice on how to prepare the nation for these two events, and his advice was so sound that Pharaoh put him in charge of carrying out the preparations.

The Background to the Exodus (The Covenant & the Cross #63) #VA2

Today’s passage of Scripture is Exodus 1:6-8 which reads: “And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation. And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them. Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Martin Luther. He said: “I beg every devout Christian not to despise the simplicity of language and the stories found in the Old Testament. He should remember that, however, simple the Old Testament may seem, it contains the words, works, judgments and actions of God Himself. Indeed the simplicity makes fools of the wise and the clever, and allows the poor and simple to see the ways of God. Therefore submit your thoughts and feelings to the stories you read, and let yourself be carried like a child to God.”

Our topic for today is titled “The Background to the Exodus” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

The Exodus is the key event of the Old Testament. The writer skips over the four-hundred-year period when Jacob’s descendants were in Egypt and picks up the story with the birth of Moses. He describes how God used Moses to deliver this mob of people out of bondage. This part of the story ends with the Israelites at Mount Sinai, where God establishes them as a full-fledged nation.

As we finished the book of Genesis, we noted that the nation of Israel had descended to Egypt in embryonic form and was left there to incubate for four hundred years. The twelve sons of Jacob had become the nucleus around which the nation would be developed (the twelve tribes). Now we will look at the hatching process, so to speak, which is described in the book of Exodus. These are now times that the original audience would have been personally familiar with — they had been there. And from our perspective, these are times for which we have firmer historical knowledge. The Exodus is the anchor point of the Old Testament, both historically and theologically.

The Story of Job (The Covenant & the Cross #62)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Job 1:1-3 which reads: “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from C.S. Lewis. He said: “The value of the Old Testament may be dependent on what seems its imperfection. It may repel one use in order that we may be forced to use it in another way—to find the Word in it… to re-live, while we read, the whole Jewish experience of God’s gradual and graded self-revelation, to feel the very contentions between the Word and the human material through which it works.”

Our topic for today is titled “The Story of Job” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

Another carefully crafted book from an early period is the book of Job: Where to include it in our survey of the Old Testament is problematic. First, Job was not an Israelite, so he really does not fit into our overall historical structure. Second, the dating of the book is debated. A number of its characteristics, including the archaic language, suggest that the book was written at an early date and that Job himself lived at about the same time or shortly after the time of Abraham. We see described in the book a similar culture that counts wealth in terms of animals, and Job himself seems to have been semi-nomadic like Abraham. Furthermore, Job personally offered sacrifices on behalf of his family, serving as a patriarchal priest. With these details in mind, we will view Job as a contemporary of Abraham’s son or grandson and place his account here. If this setting is correct, it may suggest that the book of Job was part of the original canon that the nation of Israel took with it from Mount Sinai.

Why was this account included in the canon? There seem to be three key reasons. First, the book of Job addresses a crucial question we all ask: Why do bad things happen to good people? As we follow the patriarchs, we find that while they are viewed as very human, they are also portrayed as “good people.” So the question lurking in the back of the minds of the people listening to what Moses had to say about Abraham and his descendants would have been, If God chose our ancestors, why did they end up in slavery in Egypt? This question would have arisen especially in connection with the story of Joseph. The premise of Job is that much of what happens in this world involves issues far beyond moral cause and effect.