BIBLE STUDY SERIES #146, 147 and 148

4 September, 1994

SEEING GOD - PART IV

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

The Bible Studies in this present series have taken us from the Call of Abram down through the lives of his son, Isaac, his grandson, Jacob (renamed Israel), and Israel's children, patriarchs of the families of the Tribes of Israel which, in the Biblical record, have lately emerged from Egyptian bondage through The Exodus and have now been gathered to worship The Almighty God at the foot of Mount Sinai. Presently we are studying Exodus 24, and we had of late been considering Exodus 24:10, the verse which tells us that the representatives of the nation of Israel had the experience of seeing God upon the mountain.

On our last several programmes, we have given our attention to some aspects of that vision of The Almighty, and last week, we were considering how we may "see" God through the multiplicity and variety of names and titles which Scripture lists in reference to The One God. We had considered the Old Testament names for God; Elohim, Yahweh or Jehovah, Jah, El, Eloah and Elyon. Today, I want to conclude our list before continuing with our verse study.

This list of many names or titles of Yahweh (Jehovah) of the Bible is not to be confused with the vague but all too prevalent ecumenical idea spawned by the New Age Movement as the planned religion, created to dovetail with the One World Government. That religious stew makes all the "gods" to be found in every religious drift on the planet to be somehow just new visions of the same god-within-man acceptable to atheists and humanists alike; a mistake which ought to be obvious to anyone who considers the conflicting incompatible descriptions provided historically by their various holy books and teachers.

These are all aspects of the first lie spoken by the serpent to Eve, in Genesis 3. You may remember that in answer to Eve's reply concerning the forbidden fruit, the serpent spoke these words: "Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil." Seemingly intelligent humanists have been falling for that lie ever since!

Now let us complete that list of Old Testament names and titles which tell us more of God, and which, by their verbal description provide another means through which we may begin to "see" Him.

SHADDAI is in every instance translated "Almighty", and is indicated by small capital letters. It is God (El), not as the source of strength, but of grace; not as Creator, but as the Giver. Shaddai is the All-bountiful. This title does not refer to His creative power, but to His power to supply all the needs of His people. Its first occurrence is in Gen. 17:1, and is used to show Abraham that He Who called him out to walk alone before Him could supply all his needs.

ADON, ADONAI and ADONIM, all are generally rendered "Lord", but each with its own peculiar usage and association. They all denote headship in various aspects. They have to do with God as "over-Lord."

ADON is the Lord as ruler in the earth.
ADONAI is the Lord in His relation to the earth; and as carrying out His purposes of blessing in the earth. It united the vowel points from Jehovah, with the word Adon.
ADONIM is the plural of ADON, and never used of man. It carries all that ADON does, but in a greater and higher degree; and more especially as owner and proprietor.

Though each of the names and titles of the One God of The Bible manifest the multiplicity of God's characteristics they are all aspects found in the same One God, The position clarifies as we consult the New Testament, for there we find that Jesus Christ is the visible manifestation of that One God Who entered the stream of His creation in time and space, was veiled in human flesh, and for a time tabernacled among us.

In this compendium of names, we may "see" God as it were, through all His varied attributes in relationship with ourselves, as the Creator, the Owner and Overlord, and the Husband of His people. He is Provider, Healer, Banner, Sanctifier, Prince of Peace and Lord of hosts, Our Righteousness, Constantly Present, The Most High, our Shepherd Who IS, WAS and IS TO COME, The Almighty God. All this is seen in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Saviour, willing to shed His blood in our place. What a wonderful God!

Now, in the time remaining, let us return to pick up the thread of our Scriptural account at Exodus 24:12, to see that the God Whom we have been describing in the names and titles of Scripture is the Law-giver, Whose authority as Creator is supreme over all of His Creation.

12. And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written, that thou mayest teach them.
13. And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God.
14. And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them.
15. And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount.
16. And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
17. And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.
18. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.

With regard to this passage, and under the heading "Moses delegates his authority and again ascends Mount Sinai", The New Bible Commentary states: "Moses and the elders probably returned to the plain after the vision of the preceding verses and subsequently God called Moses again to appear before Him on the summit of the mount. Joshua, his confidential servant, accompanied him, but probably only so far (13). Knowing that he would be a long time absent from the people, he delegated his authority to Aaron and Hur until his return (14)." The Hebrew word for "law" is given as "torah." The note continues: "The divine revelation to Moses was only gradually made." It tells us that the six days were spent by Moses in preparing himself for communion with God. In verse 17, the glory of the LORD is the manifestation of the divine presence as seen by the Israelites from the distance of the plain below. Of those forty days which are mentioned in verse 18, it notes that "During this time he ate and drank nothing."

On this passage, Keil and Delitzsch tell us that "Vers. 12-18 prepare the way for the subsequent revelation recorded in chap. xxv.-xxxi., which Moses received concerning the erection of the sanctuary. At the conclusion of the covenant meal, the representatives of the nation left the mountain along with Moses. This is not expressly stated, indeed; since it followed as a matter of course that they returned to the camp, when the festival for which God had called them up was concluded."

Further on, regarding the forty days and forty nights of verse 18, they continue: "including the six days of waiting,- the whole time without eating and drinking (Deut. ix. 9). The number forty was certainly significant, since it was not only repeated on the occasion of his second protracted stay upon Mount Sinai (xxxiv. 28; Deut. ix. 18), but occurred again in the forty days of Elijah's journey to Horeb the mount of God in the strength of the food received from the angel (I Kings xix. 8), and in the fasting of Jesus at the time of His temptation (Matt. iv. 2; Luke iv. 2), and even appears to have been significant in the forty years of Israel's wandering in the desert (Deut. viii. 2). In all these cases the number refers to a period of temptation, of the trial of faith, as well as to a period of the strengthening of faith through the miraculous support bestowed by God."

As we of the British-Israel-World Federation hold that the generally Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of today descend from those same Israelites whose leader, Moses, received their law at the hand of The Almighty God Himself, upon the summit of Mount Sinai, we see it as vital to the well-being of our people that we should return to that law and examine how it ought to be implemented in our own time, for, it is the law system given to structure the Kingdom of God upon the earth, and which will be implemented upon Christ's return in glory.

If any question this, we must note that it is that same law system to which Christ made reference in Matthew 5:16-19, and we are left in no doubt as to which laws were intended when, in Mark 10:19, Christ stated plainly "Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother." Thus He left us in no doubt that it is these same laws of Sinai which form the basis of His Kingdom; that Kingdom for the coming of which Our Lord taught us to pray in The Lord's Prayer. Perhaps significantly, it is that prayer which our present humanist leaders forbid to be used exclusively in the classrooms of our nation today. They thus fulfil prophecy regarding the typical leaders of God's people just before His return. We shall continue these studies on our next programme.

11 September, 1994

WRITTEN IN STONE AND FLESH - PART I

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our present series of Bible Studies has been tracing the Genesis and Exodus accounts of the initiation of God's Great Plan for the re-constitution of His Creation into accord with His perfect plans and purposes. We began the series with the Call of Abram, and traced the descent of Abraham's seed through Isaac, Jacob, and the children of Israel as they moved down into Egypt, and later escaped the Egyptian Bondage years at God's appointed time through The Exodus. Now, led by Moses, these Israelites have gathered to Mount Sinai where they are accepting God's Laws, thus making their agreement with Yahweh (Jehovah) The Almighty God, in the blood sacrifice ceremony which marks them for all time as God's chosen instruments for the development of His Kingdom.

During recent broadcasts, we have looked at the topic of "Seeing God", because it is recorded in Exodus 24:10 that seventy elders of Israel did so in the company of Moses and Aaron, with Aaron's two sons, Nadab and Abihu, on the slopes of Sinai. As it is elsewhere stated in scripture that "no man hath seen God at any time" (John 1:18), we must understand that this vision occurred in some manner compatible with that elaboration, while they ate the ceremonial meal.

In order to pick up the threads of the story, we will briefly review Exodus 24:12.

12. And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written, that thou mayest teach them.

Today, I want to spend a few moments in consideration of the words contained in that verse, and particularly the symbolic use of stone in those "tables of stone." God's Kingdom was formed as He and His people united in the binding contract of His Law code. A code of law is a contract binding upon both the supreme ruling authority and the citizenry of a nation; in this case, it applies between Yahweh (Jehovah), the Mighty God of Sinai, and the Israelites. In effect, a law code is an agreement which stipulates what results will follow compliance and what will result from non-compliance with that code of laws on the part of each party to the agreement. If the people comply with that law code, God guarantees to do certain things on their behalf. If they disobey, then certain curses will follow that disobedience.

It is interesting that this law code is to be written on tables of stone, for stone, rather than the various metals of the Babylonian image of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, is often used in Scripture as the symbolic material which, throughout Israel's history, has represented the nation of Israel. I want, for a few moments, to confirm that statement from various parts of Scripture.

As it was in Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that Israel's story first may be said to come into focus we might let our minds revert back to a portion of the Genesis account in which Isaac was offered to God by Abraham on an altar which Abraham built on mount Moriah. As the aged Abraham built the altar when he and Isaac arrived at Moriah, it must have been made of field stones of the district. We find this described in Genesis 22:9-18. At that time, Abraham was in process of carrying out a command of God to take his only son by Sarah and offer him as a burnt offering. Let us read that reference.

9. And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
10. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
11. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
12. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
13. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
14. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.
15. And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time,
16. And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son:
17. That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
18. And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

There, laid upon a stone altar, Isaac was offered and thus dedicated to God. The essence of that promise and commitment on the part of The LORD which He gave in response to this act of faith at that time was later confirmed to Isaac himself in Genesis 26:3-5. It should be noted that these were unconditional promises by The LORD, being based not on what Abraham and Isaac would do in future, but on what they had already done, and so they would be unconditional in the sense that Abraham, the human element, had already met his part of the contract.

On our next programme I hope to make reference to St. Paul's words in Romans and Galatians which point to Law and Faith, the two aspects of right relationship with God.

Now let us note how the symbolism of stone enters the picture. The altar of sacrificial dedication would be of stone and I find it interesting that "sand which is upon the sea shore", which is stated to represent the multitudes of Abraham's seed in Isaac, is the formative material which, as time passes, later develops into sandstone.

A Stone was used as the pillow upon which Jacob's head rested when he had that marvellous dream of the ladder which stretched up to heaven upon which angels were ascending and descending, and above which he had the glorious vision of The LORD, in Genesis 28:11-22. At that time, he heard the proclamation by The Almighty:

13. ...I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
14. And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
15. And behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of."

Upon awaking, Jacob anointed the pillow-stone with oil and called it "Bethel", which means "God's House". The word Christ means "anointed", and so there is a hint here of an identification with Jesus. Probably it was this rock upon which Yahweh (Jehovah) stood in symbolic identification at Horeb while Moses smote it, allowing refreshing water to flow for the people, as stated in Exodus 17:6, an act which looked down the centuries to Calvary where Christ, on the Cross, provided living water for His people.

What happened to that Bethel Stone? The 1950 Westminster Abbey Guide book states of The Coronation Stone: "Tradition identifies this stone with the one upon which Jacob rested his head at Bethel." That reference indicates the history of the Coronation Stone as being traced from Egypt through Spain to Ireland where it was called Lia Fail, and thence to Scone in Scotland from whence, in turn, it was brought to London by Edward I in 1297. The stone is elsewhere described as a calcareous red sandstone, of a type now known to exist in Palestine. We can assume that the symbolic sand of God's promise, representing Abraham's descendants through Isaac was, in effect, incorporated in Bethel, that sandstone block upon which Jacob rested his head.

In connection with that Bethel Stone, the words of St. Paul in II Corinthians 6:16 come to mind: "...for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God and they shall be my people." We of the British-Israel-World Federation believe the same symbolic Bethel Stone is the Coronation Stone in Westminster Abbey today.

There are many other stones connected with Israel. We have but to remember the twelve stones which Moses placed about the altar at Sinai to represent the presence of the twelve tribes at the altar of sacrificial dedication (Exodus 24:4). Likewise the stones of Elijah's reassembled altar on Mount Carmel are stated to stand for the twelve tribes of Israel in I Kings 18:31. Later, the stones upon the shoulders of the high priest (Exodus 28:9-10), and upon the breastplate (Exodus 28:17-21), were engraved with the names of the twelve tribes to be borne before the LORD as he entered the holy place (Exodus 28:29).

In Daniel 2:34, 44-45, Daniel explained King Nebuchadnezzar's dream to him, saying that the stone which was cut out of the mountain without hands and which smote the feet of the image in the dream, breaking it in pieces, represented a kingdom which the God of heaven would set up through history while the Babylonian succession of empires rose and fell. The fact that this stone was cut out of the mountain without hands indicates the tables of the Ten Commandments, given to Israel at Mount Sinai, and reveals the identity of God's kingdom through history thereby.

We may also remember, although I shall have more to say about this aspect on our next programme, the reference in Matthew 21:42-44, to the stone which the builders rejected, which has become the head of the corner. I Peter 2:4-5 show that this refers to Jesus Christ. Stone becomes living stone in Him. Let us keep in mind that we are advised to secure our standing as living stones in His temple - built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. We shall continue our studies next week.

18 September, 1994

WRITTEN IN STONE AND FLESH - PART II

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our present series of Bible Studies, which began with an examination of God's call to Abraham, is following the theme of God's Great Plan for the regeneration of His Universe to accord with His perfect will. We traced Abraham's seed to Egypt, and then as they escaped in The Exodus. Now, at Mount Sinai, Israel is serving God, as promised in Exodus 3:12.

Israel is in the process of receiving God's Laws and instructions for the organization of the Nation of Israel. They have made their agreement with Yahweh (Jehovah) The Almighty God, in the blood sacrifice ceremony which marks them for all time as God's chosen instruments for the development of His Kingdom.

Exodus 24:12 stated "Come up to me into the mount, and be there; and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them." On our last broadcast, we began to look at the use of stone in that statement, and saw how stone has been used throughout Scripture as a symbol for the nation of Israel. We shall be tracing what actually happened to those first two tables of stone, and what occurred to require the substitution of other tables when we come to study Exodus 34:4.

Today, I want to concentrate on the transition from stone to flesh as a receptacle for receiving the record of God's Laws but I shall have to start with a certain Biblical reference found in Matthew's Gospel.

The symbolic theme of stone has not only been applied to the whole nation of Israel down through its history, but also to Jesus Christ, the King of Israel, for Israel forms His "peculiar people", His special chosen Kingdom upon the earth, and His kinsmen.

Several references link the symbolism of stone to Jesus Christ, and I think it noteworthy that in each case, the symbol of stone appears to apply to Him in His capacity as King of, and hence as an integral part of, an Israel Nation. Let us look at some references from Scripture.

One incident which features the application of the stone symbol to Christ Himself is recorded in Matthew 21:33-46, particularly verses 42-44, and likewise in Mark 12:10, and Luke 20:17. It concerns a certain stone which the builders rejected, which has become the head of the corner. We shall read the account in Matthew's Gospel. It is the Parable of the Wicked Husbandmen.

As we read, keep in mind the unconditional promises made by The LORD to the Patriarchs concerning the children of Israel, and that in the time of Solomon's son, Rehoboam, they became two nations, the Southern House of Judah and the Northern House of Israel, either of which might qualify to inherit the promises.

The Northern House of Israel was deported by the Assyrians in a series of invasions culminating in 721 B.C., from which they did not return to Palestine. We, of the British-Israel-World Federation see the Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples as the descendants of the majority of Israel in our own time. The Judah portion, while it also suffered deportation by the Babylonians, and much racial and religious amalgamation with other peoples in the process, did manage to return in part under Ezra and Nehemiah to build the nation of the Jews.

Note that the rejected stone may represent both Christ and the formerly rejected and dispersed Nation of Northern Israel, the only alternative nation to the House of Judah which can qualify as potential inheritors of God's promises. Matthew 21:33-46 says:

33. Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:
34. And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.
35. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.
36. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.
37. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.
38. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.
39. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
40. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?
41. They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
42. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
43. Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
44. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
45. And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.
46. But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.

The rejected Stone which is to be promoted may, in this parable, stand for two related entities. One is the husbandmen of the Northern House of Israel, soon to receive employment as replacements for the murderers; the other is the rejected and murdered heir himself, obviously Jesus Christ.

Peter used the theme in Acts 4:10-11 and I Peter 2:4. In Acts 4:10-11, speaking of Jesus Christ, Peter announced to the people who saw a lame man healed "Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner." Read alone, the stone refers only to Jesus, but when we read the context from the last verses, 25-26 of the previous chapter, we see that Peter's message concerns and associates the nation of Israel in this connection as well: "Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities."

Likewise I Peter 2:3-10 refers to Christ, but note that this scripture, like the others, appears to be a reference to Him in His capacity as King over, and kinsman to, the whole nation of Israel, and the Northern tribes in particular as it is evident, both from the first verse of the epistle and by the contained quotations from the Old Testament to the same, that the epistle was sent:

3. If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious,
4. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,
5. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.
6. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
7. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
8. And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
9. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
10. Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God; which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

That ninth verse is a quotation from Exodus 19:5-6, and the tenth a quotation from Hosea 2:23, which references, taken together, apply only to Northern Israel, and mark the recipients of the epistle therefore as descendants of the Northern House of Israel; tribes which now emerge as the alternative to Judah, being as capable of fulfilling God's promises to The Patriarchs.

With the infusion of Christ's Kingship, the Laws of Sinai become written on the flesh of His subjects. In II Corinthians 3:2-11, we find Paul stating to the Corinthian Israelites that they are an epistle, written "not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart." This reminds us of Pauls words in Romans 4 where he makes reference to God's promise to Abraham, made on the basis of righteousness by faith, and given before the Sinai Law code, a fact which Paul also explained to the Galatian Hebrew exiles of Israel in Galatians 3:17: "And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect."

Hints to the transition from Law written upon stone to law written upon flesh appear in a number of scriptures. We might ponder the following examples. The Stone Tables of the Law of Sinai were placed within the ark of the Covenant, which was made of shittim wood and gold and thus unseen, being covered by those other materials. Describing the interior of Solomon's temple, I Kings 6:18 states "...all was cedar; there was no stone seen." Thus cedar wood, a material derived of a living source, symbolically covered the dead stone.

The six waterpots of stone which provided Jesus the means to perform His first miracle, turning water into wine at the marriage recounted in John 2:6 might symbolise this transition. In Matthew 3:9 and Luke 3:8 we read that "God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." A wooden Cross, upon which Christ's flesh was nailed, formed the means of meeting the penalty of the Law of Sinai, which was written on the Stone Tables.

We shall continue our studies next week.

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