Inspirations

Posts tagged ‘advent’

Abraham Carried the Seed

by Beth PiepenburgAbraham Journey

Abram was living in Ur of the Chaldees, in present day Southeastern Turkey, with his father Terah.  Although from the righteous lineage of Shem, a son of Noah, his father Terah was a pagan worshiper. When Abram had irritated his fellow Chaldeans with his talk about the true God, he and his father were forced to leave Ur. Although the Lord was directing Abram to move to the land of Canaan, his father preferred to relocate at Haran, about forty miles south of Ur, and set up a center for the worship of Sin, the moon goddess.

After the death of his father five years later, seventy-five year old Abram was free to follow the Lord’s directive to dwell in Canaan. Here the Lord promised him that his seed would be numerous, but from his seed would come One in which all the nations of the earth would be blessed. Not only was Abram to be blessed with a son, but Abram was carrying through his own seed the spiritual promise of a physical Savior.

However, God was not yet ready to give Abram a son until he and his wife Sarai were mature in their faith. They settled in various places, learning to grow in faith. When famine hit they abandoned Canaan and dwelt in Egypt. Relying in his own cleverness rather than trusting God, Abram told the Pharaoh that Sarai was his sister rather than his wife. Well, she was a paternal cousin, a little stretch from sister. When Pharaoh discovered their half-truth, they were told to leave. Returning to Canaan, their faith in God developed deeper roots.

Faith is like a mustard seed that begins small and grows to be a large plant. Likewise, Abraham’s faith had started with a small seed of belief and for centuries continued to grow with his descendants. The ultimate return of his faith would come to fruition with the Promised Seed.

Being ten years from when Abram and Sarai had left Haran, God had not provided them a physical heir. While ten means completion, they found themselves uncompleted or lacking a son. So, Sarai hatched a plan of using her handmaid, Hagar, as a surrogate mother. Ishmael was conceived, and Abram and Sarai were satisfied with the outcome. (Ishmael became the father of the Saracens, not the Arabians.)

When Abram was ninety-nine, the Lord appeared to announce His blessings over Abraham’s lineage, to instruct him about the covenant rite of circumcision, to give Abram and Sarai a name change, and to shake their world with the promise of a son through Sarah. Well, wouldn’t you laugh, if your wife was well past the age of bearing children? As promised, the next year Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah.

Several years later, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac as a burnt offering. Perhaps, Abraham thought that Isaac was the Promised Seed and God would provide a miracle. With heavy heart, Abraham took Isaac, a lad, up to the mountains of Moriah, possibly the very same spot where Christ was crucified. Willingly, Isaac laid himself on the altar, putting his trust in his father. Relief swept over father and son when the angel of the Lord called out to stop Abraham, because the purpose of the test was to see if Abraham feared the Lord. Whew! A ram was caught in the thicket for the sacrifice! The imagery speaks so well of the Father giving his Son as a sacrifice on Calvary, and a Son willing to lay his life down. Surely, the promise of a Seed was being passed down from Abraham unto generations later, to Mary the mother of Jesus.

Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2015. All rights reserved.

THE CHRISTMAS SEED by Beth Piepenburg

270px-St_Denis_transept_south

Now I mentioned yesterday that Matthew wrote to the Jews for the purpose of showing that Jesus Christ was the Anointed King of the Jews. Matthew introduces this leitmotif in Matthew 1:1, by stating: The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.  Three important points are being made here for the benefit of the Jews.

1)      Generation is the Greek word, γενεσις or genesis, and is referring here to the roots or lineage of Jesus Christ. Actually, the book of Genesis was composed on clay tablets[1] by the various patriarchs and later compiled by Moses[2]. Appended at the end of the clay text would be a colophon, identifying the author, contents, and sometimes a purpose much like the page number and title is listed at the top of the page in a modern book. We can identify the colophons in the book of Genesis by the Hebrew word, תולדת or toledah. Likewise, Matthew, a tax scribe, used this same Hebrew word in the beginning of his gospel and thereby was identifying the true authorship of this gospel as Jesus Christ besides introducing the ancestry of Jesus.

2)      Jesus Christ was a descendant of David. In 2 Samuel 7:12-16, the prophet Nathan gives the word of the Lord to King David that God would set up a Seed coming from David’s lineage and that his Kingdom would be established for eternity.

3)      Jesus Christ was a descendant of Abraham, by whom all the families would be blessed (Gen. 12:3). Although Gen. 15:5 reads that Abraham’s seed or offspring would be numerous like the stars, yet a prophetic word is being foretold here about a future Seed[3]. In context with Gen. 15:1-3, the Lord God is telling Abraham, a skilled astronomer[4], that if he could recount or record the stars, so shall his Seed be. What message is to be recounted in the stars, except the story of redemption pictured in the Mazzaroth, the twelve constellations?

Although the purpose of the colophon used on clay tablets had been lost to history, the Jews would have understand that the word תולדת or toledah signaled ancestors. They would have understand the point being made that Jesus Christ was the son of David and the son of Abraham, both important qualifiers of a Messiah.

Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2013. All rights reserved.


[1] Clay was the medium for writing in Babylon and early Canaan, while papyrus was the medium in Egypt.

[2] If I compiled the recipes of all my past relatives and published them as a book, the author would be me. Likewise, in compiling the patriarchal tablets, Moses is deemed the author of Genesis.

[3] Although the word seed, זרע or zehrah, is a collective noun, only the context can give us a clue if the noun is to be understood as a singular or plural entity. In this case, the context doesn’t differentiate between the number.

[4] Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, 1.7.2

FOUR VERSIONS OF THE CHRIST STORY by Beth Piepenburg

Tetramorph meteoraMatthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote their gospels for different audiences in mind.  In order to understand the Christmas story a little better, a brief look to whom and for what purpose each gospel was written will enrich our lives a little, too. Valuing ancient thought and learning, my views differ from modern speculation on unfounded Q documents. Therefore, my research directs me back to ancient literature for understanding.[1]

Initially, Matthew wrote his gospel in the Hebrew Aramaic for the Jewish people with the focus on Jesus Christ being King and Messiah. Loaded with Jewish idioms and culture, the gospel was later translated into Greek, the language for literary writings. Therefore, Matthew’s intention is to explain to his fellow Jews the fulfillment of prophecy.

Mark, writing in Rome, condensed the gospel story for the Roman world with the focus on Jesus Christ being the Servant of God and Son of God. Although written in Greek, this gospel keeps to a Semitic syntax, and yet uses many Latin words and idioms. Therefore, Mark’s intention is to explain to the common culture the story of Christ in a pragmatic manner.

Luke, the beloved physician, wrote his gospel with the focus on Jesus Christ being the Son of Man and the perfect God-Man. Written in Greek, the literary language of the day, the gospel has Greek overtones.  Therefore, Luke’s intention is to explain by Greek expression the human story of Christ in a historical genre.

John wrote his gospel in Greek. His focus is on Jesus Christ being the Son of God and the Revealed Word. John’s gospel is spiritually oriented, and speaks to the heart, whether Jew or Gentile. Therefore, John’s intention is to explain Christ in spiritual terms.

Thus, each Gospel writer had a special mission in presenting Jesus Christ to the world.

Copyright by Beth Piepenburg, 2013. All rights reserved.


[1]