Friday, October 19, 2018


BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
larrydalexanderbiblestudies.blogspot.com

BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday October 21, 2018

A SON PROMISED TO SARAH
Genesis 18:1-15

   In biblical times in the land of ancient Palestine, inns, hotels, and motels were very scarce, and so many travelers had to rely on its citizens to be hospitable towards each other. Here in Genesis 18 we see the seriousness exhibited by Abraham in his desire to welcome strangers in his home as he offers three men (angels) a royal welcome into his abode.
    One day around noon Abraham was sitting at the entrance of his tent when he espied three men standing nearby. This passage tells us that Abraham jumped up and ran to meet them, bowing to them, showing the greatest of respect and acknowledgement, even calling them “LORD” (this indicates that he knew that they represented Divinity before him) and requesting that they abide with him for a while.
    Abraham offered that they rest in the shade of one of Mambre’s oak trees, and allow his servants to bring them water to drink, and to wash their tired feet (v.4). In addition, he offers to prepare them fresh food (not leftovers), for them to be filled before they continued on their way (v.5). And so we see here, the great lengths to which a person should go to welcome another person into their home, because we never know (like in this case) when we may be entertaining “an angel of the LORD”.  
    Notice that the first verse in this chapter indicates that “the LORD appeared again to Abraham”, and so at least one these men was an actual “Theophany” of CHRIST, or, represented one of several Old Testament appearances by CHRIST JESUS” (Genesis 18:20-21 and 22:11-17, Exodus 3:2-3, Joshua 5:13-15, Numbers 22:21-35, and Judges 2:1-5).
    And so, after the three angels accepted Abraham’s invitation, he ran back to the tent and instructed his wife Sarah to help him prepare the meal for them. After the food was prepared, Abraham took it and served it to his honored guests, and then, respectfully waited for them to finish eating.
    One of the angels then requested to know where Sarah was, and Abraham responded that she was in the tent. The angel of the LORD then informed Abraham that by this time next year HE would return and Sarah would be nursing their very own son, conceived of their own bodies in their old age. Sarah, who was listening from their tent, laughed silently to herself, thinking, “How could a worn-out woman like me have a baby? Especially when my husband too, is so old”
    However, the LORD divinely perceived Sarah’s thoughts and said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, “Can an old woman like me have a baby?” Is anything too hard for the LORD? The LORD then iterates HIS previous statement to Abraham, and upon hearing it again, Sarah became afraid and denied that she had laughed. However, the LORD rebuked her telling her “That is not true, you did laugh”.  
    The promises GOD makes to us are often concerning things that are “humanly impossible” to achieve, and despite our doubt, HE humors us, and brings those promises into reality anyway. Here in this passage we see, for the first time, GOD actually giving this aging couple an exact time-frame for the birth of their son, who would be named Isaac, and HE reminds them that nothing is impossible for HIM to do. GOD is able to work with us through our limitations and imperfections, even when we exercise only “mustard-seed faith” in HIS divine, unlimited abilities.      

ABRAHAM INTERCEDES FOR SODOM
Genesis 18:16-33

   After they finished their meal, the three men of GOD rose up to begin their journey to Sodom to compete the second leg of their mission, the part that they had not yet discussed with Abraham. As they were leaving, however, they had a discussion among themselves as to whether or not they would tell Abraham of this other part of their mission, the fact that they were about to destroy the entire area, including all of the inhabitants, of Sodom and Gomorrah.
    Notice that, in verse 16, when the angel spoke, the text states that, “the LORD said” and that throughout the remainder of this passage, Abraham is actually addressing the LORD HIMSELF, WHO here is the “pre-incarnate” JESUS. Remember that JESUS HIMSELF tells us that, before HE completed HIS earthy mission, that is chronicled in the New Testament Scriptures, which is before HIS resurrection and ascension back into Heaven, HE was not yet all-knowing. HE reminds us of that here (Vs.20-21), and in Genesis 22:11-17 (Old Testament), and Matthew 24:36 (New Testament).
    In the Old Testament, pre-incarnate JESUS served HIS FATHER GOD many times in the capacity as GOD’s greatest prophet, delivering monumental, milestone messages to HIS earthy servants such as Abraham here in this passage, where HE says HE has to go to Sodom and Gomorrah to see if what HE heard was true, only “Then I will know” (Vs.20-21), and then again in Genesis 22:11-17 where HE says, “Now I know” (v.12), which indicates that HE did not know before-hand and was serving HIS FATHER on faith, the way we should too.
    After discussing the situation among themselves, the two other angels went on toward Sodom, but “The ANGEL of the LORD” which always indicates that it is a “Theophany of pre-incarnate CHRIST” in the Old Testament, stayed behind with Abraham for a while. At that time Abraham posed the question to the LORD, “Will you destroy both the innocent and the guilty alike?”
    Here Abraham shows a deep sensitive concern for those in the area of Sodom and Gomorrah who may be innocent (one of which was his nephew Lot), and he petitions to the LORD to spare the wicked cities for their sake, be it 50, 45, or even 10. The LORD agrees to spare the cities if even 10 innocent people can be found there, and of course, history now tells us that there were not even 10. When the LORD finished speaking with Abraham, he returned to his tent. Stay tuned.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





  



Friday, October 12, 2018


BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
larrydalexanderbiblestudies.blogspot.com

BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday October 14, 2018

ABRAM IS NAMED “ABRAHAM”
Genesis 17:1-8

   In Genesis 17 the LORD pays a visit to a 99 year-old Abram and commands, once again, that he serve HIM faithfully, and, that he, from that point forward, live a blameless life, or as JESUS would say many years later, “Go and sin no more”. HE also tells Abram once again that HE will make a Covenant with him, by which HE would guarantee to make him the father of a mighty nation. In fact, GOD informs him that he will become the father of many nations, not just the Jewish nation of the future “Israel”.
    History now tells us that Abram, from that time, went on to become the towering figure, to whom, the Jews trace their origin as GOD’s chosen people. He was born in the fabled city of Ur more than 4100 years ago. Ur was a Sumerian cultured city located on the banks of the famed Euphrates River. It was known for its monumental architecture, wealth, music, and art.
    Growing up, Abram and his family had worshiped many other gods (Joshua 24:2-3), however, when the ALMIGHTY GOD, our CREATOR called him, HE instructed him to leave his father’s house and go to a land that HE would show him at a later time (Genesis 12:1). Abram then left and traveled to the land of Canaan, where he lived a nomadic life for nearly 100 years, dying at the ripe old age of 175!
    In the Old Testament Hebrew, the word used for “covenant” is “briyth” (pronounced “ber-eeth”), and it is an ancient form of compact that is sealed by passing between two pieces of flesh, in the same sense as a knife in the process of cutting meat into halves. In Genesis 17, when Abram is around 99 years old, GOD comes to him to reveal to him more details of HIS previously promised covenant (Genesis 12:1-3 & 15).
    Here in this passage, as I stated earlier, GOD tells Abram to serve HIM faithfully and live a blameless life. Hearing this, Abram fell prostrate to the ground, and at that point, GOD informs him that HE was changing his name to “Abraham”, which is interpreted “father of many nations”. And so it was that, thereafter, every time Abraham heard his own name, he would be reminded of GOD’s covenant promise to greatly multiply his descendants into a mighty nation.

THE SIGN OF CIRCUMCISION
Genesis 17:9-14

    In verses 9-14 GOD reveals to Abraham yet another confirming sign, however, this revelation would apply, not only to Abraham, but to all males who shared the Jewish promise of the everlasting covenant. Here the LORD institutes the, now famous ancient ritual of “circumcision” into the Jewish doctrine.
    Circumcision involves the cutting away of the foreskin from the tip of the male’s penis, and it was to be performed on every Jewish male child on the eighth day of his life. And even though circumcision had been practiced elsewhere in the ancient world, here it was to take on a new meaning.
    Among the Jews, circumcision would serve as an everlasting reminder, from generation to generation, of GOD’s sacred covenant with his chosen people. It would be a “cutting” reminder that symbolized how GOD wished for the Israelites to lay aside the impurity of their nature and remain loyal to the family of GOD forever. Circumcision would also serve to remind the Israelites that all mankind is dependent upon GOD for the reproduction of life, and that any Jew, who refused to be cut in this way, would be “cut off” from his people because of his disobedience to GOD’s command.

SARAI IS NAMED “SARAH”
Genesis 17:15-27

    It would be remiss of me not to mention that, Sarai, Abraham’s wife, also underwent a name change, as well as a life change. Her name was changed to “Sarah”, and she also, as Abraham’s wife, would become the mother of many nations. At the ripe old age of 90, she would bear Abraham the son who would become their heir to the promise.
    Scripture tells us that Abraham laughed to himself in disbelief when GOD informed him of the miraculous deed that would soon befall he and Sarah, and when Sarah later heard the same news, she too, laughed in disbelief (Genesis 18:10-12). And so to show that GOD too, has a sense of humor, HE instructed the aging couple to name their son “Isaac”, which means, “He laughs”. The name would become a lasting reminder that they laughed at the word of GOD.
    As for Ishmael, Abraham’s son by Sarah’s handmaiden, the Egyptian servant girl, Hagar, they too, would be blessed, and would become a great nation. And on that same day, Abraham took his son Ishmael and all the other males of his household, including himself, and all of them were circumcised.
    Despite Abraham and Sarah’s laughter about the idea of bearing a child so late in life, they truly did believe GOD would do what HE said HE would do. They embodied an undying faith, and because of that, GOD accredited them with an imputed righteousness from HIMSELF.
    Abraham was always confident that GOD was able to keep him from falling, and, because of his faith, he was able to walk closely with GOD as he moved around nomadically from place to place, the last 100 years of his life. And just like Abraham was accredited with righteousness and received salvation from GOD because of his faith and belief in the covenant promise, we too can enjoy that same accredited righteousness based on our faith and belief in the covenant promise that was ushered in by CHRIST JESUS, our LORD and SAVIOR.
    The salvation promise through CHRIST JESUS, because it comes from GOD, is the greatest of all possible guarantees. Remember, even before Abraham’s physical circumcision, came a “spiritual circumcision” of his heart. His heart had to, first, become separated unto GOD, before he could acquire the faith that it would take, in order for him to physically circumcise himself and the other male members of his family, at GOD’s command.
    Perhaps the Apostle Paul put it best, as he penned his, now famous, letter to the Romans, in chapter 2, verse 29, where he writes, “No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with GOD. And true circumcision is not a cutting of the body, but a change of heart (mind), produced by GOD’s SPIRIT. And whoever has that kind of change, seeks praise from GOD, and not from men” (NLT).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander  






   
   

Friday, October 5, 2018


BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
larrydalexanderbiblestudies.blogspot.com

BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday October 7, 2018

THE BIRTH OF ISHMAEL
Genesis 16

   In Genesis 16 we see a frustrated Abram and Sarai, giving in to the pressures of their aging bodies, and an aging desire to bear children. As their faith was being tested and developed by GOD, they became more and more impatient waiting on GOD’s promise to begin to manifest itself into reality.
    Here in this passage, we see one of their moments of weakness being played out, as they attempt to take matters into their own hands by ignoring GOD’s plan and promise to them, to give them a child of their own conception. And so Sarai decides to employ her own “human ingenuity” to acquire an offspring (not of her own body), by giving her servant Hagar to her husband Abram to wed, in order that she might start a family of their own, through them.
    In those days, it was a legal custom that women (the first wife), who were barren, could give their maidservants to their husbands as a wife, and the children born of that union would be considered the adopted children and heirs of the husband and the first wife. However, GOD does not necessarily honor social customs, especially if they don’t align themselves with HIS Word and plan.
    Abram, being 85 years old at the time, did cede his position of family leadership to his wife, agreeing to abandon GOD’s plan, and to instead, comply to Sarai’ self-inspired wishes. Perhaps too, he gave in to his own sexual lust, when he agreed to take young Hagar as his wife (at his age, and based on his manly ego, Sarai did not exactly have to twist his arm), and, lo and behold, she became pregnant with his child. Much to their dismay, however, they would both later learn that GOD’s plan for them would not be fulfilled their way, but rather, it would be fulfilled GOD’s way.
    When Hagar knew for sure that she was pregnant, she began to treat Sarai, who was her superior, with contempt. This angered Sarai very much, and, as a result, she began to blame Abram for going along with her stupid idea in the first place. Abram, once again ceding his responsibility to deal with family problems to his squabbling wife, responded by telling her, that, “since she (Hagar) is your servant, you can deal with her in the way you see fit”. And so the problem worsens as Sarai begins to treat her servant, Hagar, in a very ungodly, harsh manner, even to the point where Hagar ultimately made the decision to run away from home.
    In verse 7 of this chapter, after Hagar ran away, we see an Angel of the LORD, finding her sitting beside a desert spring, a short distance from home, along the road to Shur. After asking her two questions, “Where have you come from?”, and, “Where are you going?”, the angel, in an attempt to restore order back to the family, tells Hagar to return to Sarai and submit herself to her authority.
    Here, we see the angel delivering two messages from GOD, one “hortatory” (he urgently appealed for her to return home and submit to Sarai), and the other “promissory” (he extended to her a promise from GOD that she would not only give birth to a son, but also to a nation of people, who would live at odds with the rest of the world).
    The angel also instructed Hagar to name her first son “Ishmael”, which means “GOD sees, and GOD hears”. Oftentimes in Old Testament scripture, names served as a mnemonic device for remembering divine events and encounters by GOD, and their significant affects on people’s lives, and, on world history.
    In this passage we see two very important etymologies unfolding. Here it is GOD HIMSELF WHO names Hagar’s and Abram’s coming child, “Ishmael”, and it is here HE states the reason for which HE renders this name. Here HE tells young Hagar that it is because HE has “heard” and “seen” her misery, that was perpetrated upon her by Abram and Sarai, by way of “their faithless deed”. Here GOD speaks a direct revelation to Hagar, and unlike Abram and Sarai, who responded with “human ingenuity”, Hagar would respond in faith.
    Here, the lesson that should be learned is that, GOD sees and hears our distress and affliction, no matter where we are. It is something that Abram and Sarai should have already known because they had experienced the goodness of GOD, as HE had been leading them for years, because of their faithfulness to HIM. But because they sought to use their human ingenuity to aid GOD’s plan (help GOD out), instead of trusting completely in HIM, they ultimately brought more misery to their own lives, and, to the life of Hagar, their servant.
    When burdened down with distress and sufferings, one should always turn to GOD, first and last. GOD always sees and hears us, no matter where we are in our self-imposed circumstances in life. After Hagar’s encounter with the angel, she refers to GOD as “the GOD WHO sees me” and she also says, “I have seen the ONE WHO sees me”. Hagar then names the place of the desert spring “Beer Lahai Roi”, which means “well of the living ONE who sees me”. Then Hagar returned home, where she bore Abram a son, and she called his name, just as GOD had instructed, “Ishmael”, because the LORD heard and saw her misery.
    Throughout Scripture, names provided GOD’s people with a revelation, or message from HIM. Here, we see GOD speaking in direct revelation to Hagar, and in return, she responds in faith by returning home to a situation that was not a happy one when she left. However, she would trust GOD to make that situation better, and not try to use her own human ingenuity to make things right.
    If we would only comply with, trust in, and obey the Word of GOD, things will automatically and inevitably become better in our lives. GOD sees our afflictions, and, HE also hears them through our prayers. GOD answers us, whenever we seek HIS help in earnest, putting our human ingenuity aside, with a desire to only accept HIM as our source of help and strength. HE is the only wise, living GOD WHO can safely deliver us from harm. Trusting in GOD is what I call “putting ourselves on a good path to the future”, and that is the only way that we can successfully overcome this world just as JESUS did, when HE sought to show us such, with HIS OWN life.
   

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website




Friday, September 21, 2018


BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
larrydalexanderbiblestudies.blogspot.com

BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday September 23, 2018

THE LORD’S COVENANT WITH ABRAM
Genesis 15

   In Genesis chapter 15, verses 1-6, we see one of the most defining passages on faith that can be found anywhere else in all of scripture. This passage underscores the argument by the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 4, where he debates that “Justification” and “Salvation” are imputed to us by GOD, because of our faith in HIM, and, that those gifts from GOD have never been given as a result of our so-called “good works”.
    In the biblical Greek, the word “logizomai” (log-i-zom-ahee) is used to describe what takes place when GOD accredits us with righteousness that we could not otherwise earn on our own, just as HE did with Abram in this passage. Logizomai is an accounting term that means “to reckon”, or, “to make an entry in the account book”. The doctrine of “imputation” is taught throughout the Old and New Testaments. To “impute” means “to accredit someone other than the one who is responsible”.
    Scripture teaches us that, when we believe GOD, HE, WHO keeps all record books, looks into our accounts and clearly sees that we are not righteous. HE then, through HIS grace and mercy, chooses to accept our faith in HIM, in place of that lack of righteousness. In other words, for those who have faith in HIM (CHRIST JESUS), GOD will stamp the word “RIGHTEOUS” over their accounts, and announce that their debt is covered, or, is paid in full, through the blood of CHRIST JESUS.
    Here we see Abram (Abraham), on faith, accepting GOD’s divine promise of a son to be born of his own flesh, even though it seemed physically impossible for he and Sarai (Sarah) in their old age, which was, at that time, 100 years old, and 90 years old, respectively. Also in this passage, one should note that, at that time, Abram had not yet been circumcised as a sign of his covenant with GOD, and, that the Law (The Ten Commandments), which was delivered by Moses was still some 400 years away. Therefore, neither circumcision, nor, Abram’s strict obedience to the Law factored in GOD’s decision to declare him “righteous” (Gen. 15:6). It was only through Abram’s “saving faith” in GOD that GOD afforded him the distinction of being “righteous”, and, in addition, granted him the gift of eternal life (salvation).
    In verses 7-8 of this chapter of Genesis, we find that, after Abram believed in GOD to deliver the seemingly impossible feat of presenting he and his wife Sarai with the birth of a child of their own flesh in their old age, he now, strangely wavers when GOD added the promise that he would also give the entire land of Canaan to his offspring. And actually, that’s not so surprising when we consider the fact that we too, after we’ve exercised great faith in GOD on one occasion, have on a later occasion, failed to show the same measure of faith.
    Many of us struggle with maintaining a high level of faith, over a long period of time, and that of course, is something that is synonymous with the “Christian Walk”. However, hopefully, through a closer, more personal, experiential relationship with GOD, we can overcome our pattern of inconsistency in trusting in the LORD for all things, just as Abram managed to do later on in his life.
    In verses 9-10 GOD instructs Abram in a sacrificial ritual that was known as a “Covenant of Blood”. Abram is obedient to GOD’s instructions, as he gathers up, and cuts into halves, three animal sacrifices; a three-year old heifer, a three-year old female goat, and a three-year old ram. He also brought the LORD two bird sacrifices, a turtledove and a young pigeon, the two of which, he did not sever in halves. This “Covenant of Blood” was considered to be the most binding of all covenants in Old Testament times, and it was always formalized by GOD’s “passing through” the divided halves of the sacrificial animals, an act which HE apparently used to consummate the agreement (v. 17).
    In verse 11 we see vultures (birds of prey), which, in this passage represent a “bad omen” for Israel’s near future, and would later turn out to be their enslavement in Egypt. Abram was eventually able to “shoo” these birds away, who were trying to devour GOD’s covenant sacrifices which he had prepared. Satan will always oppose, and try to destroy any of man’s dealings with GOD, however, in the ensuing verses, 12-16, GOD shows Abram in a dream, how Israel would be preyed upon and oppressed by Egypt, but would eventually be rescued, as GOD would “shoo” Egypt away in the end, and they would ultimately come away from Egypt with great wealth (Vs. 13-14).
    In the Hebrew, the word used for “believed”, in verse 6 is “aman” (aw-mawn), and it simply means “to be certain”. It is a word that sets our mind on the same absolute trust that Abram had in GOD. Abram’s story is perhaps, scripture’s greatest example of a man who possessed a “saving faith” that GOD would always deliver on HIS promises, no matter how impossible it may seem to the human thought process.
    Abraham’s righteousness was won by strong faith in GOD, and he was fully persuaded, that GOD would do just what HE said HE would do. He came to know, just as we must all come to know, that GOD’s power is not bound by our understanding, and neither is it bound by our lack of understanding.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





Friday, September 14, 2018


BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
larrydalexanderbiblestudies.blogspot.com

BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday September 16, 2018

ABRAM RESCUES LOT
Genesis 14

   Shortly after Abram and Lot separated, war broke out in the region where Lot had chosen to live. The chronicles of this “international war” between nine kingdoms is now seen as an outworking of GOD’s promise to Abram that HE would make him great and famous, and, that HE would “bless those who blessed him”, and “curse those who cursed him”.
    Here in the opening lines of this chapter we see four powerful kings (Amraphel of Babylonia, Arioch of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer of Elam, and Tidal of Goiim) uniting to put down a rebellion in the Siddim Valley near the Dead Sea (Sea of Salt). There they defeated five Jordanian kings (Bera of Sodom, Birsha of Gomorrah, Shinab of Admah, Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (Zoar), who had all formed an alliance and mobilized their troops. These five kings had all been subjects to King Kedorlaomer for twelve years, and now in the thirteenth years they had decided that enough was enough.
    King Kedorloamer and his allies had already conquered the Rephaites in Ashteroth-Karnaim, the Zuzites at Ham, the Emites in the plain of Kiriathaim, and the Horites at Mount Seir, and, in addition, they also had destroyed the Amalekites at Kadesh, and the Amorites at Hazazon-tamar. Now they set their aims on the final leg of their magnificent conquest in the Jordan Valley where Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Bela where located. It is there that they took Lot captive, along with all of his family and all of his possessions.
    According to the writings of Josephus, Sodom was a small but fully populated country that was rich and flourishing, and was controlled by five kings. The people, although they were idolaters, had an opportunity through Lot to learn about the real GOD, but they refused to heed his preaching (see 2 Peter 2:6-8). Their wickedness and sexual sin became so prevalent that GOD finally decided to destroy them completely (Genesis 19:12-13).
    Lot was a righteous man who lived in an “unrighteous atmosphere” that had become an “unrighteous stronghold” of ungodly behavior. As a result of staying in this environment too long, Lot’s thinking and judgment had been gravely affected. However, GOD always rescues HIS people from bad decisions and mistakes, and, from the oppression of ungodly people and situations.
    After Lot’s capture, one of the men who escaped the battle, and, who obviously knew that Abram, a Hebrew like Lot, had been camped at the oak grove belonging to Mamre, the Amorite for quite some time now, ran and found Abram, and informed him of the fate of his nephew.
    Abram had apparently signed a covenant agreement with Mamre and his relatives Eschol and Aner, that allowed him to dwell among them in peace in Canaan, and in fact they had become his allies. They even went with Abram on his rescue mission to free Lot, and were later rewarded with some of the spoils from their victory over Kedorlaomer’s unified army (v.24b).
    After receiving the news of Lot’s capture, Abram called together all the men of his household, 318 in all, and they, along with Mambre and his relatives, set out to extricate Lot and his family from their predicament in Sodom. Scripture says Abram and his band of men chased after Kedorlaomer’s army, and caught up to them at Dan.
    It was there at Dan, that Abram staged a night attack, dividing up his men, and then attacking Kedorlaomer from several different directions, giving the appearance that there were many more of them than it actually was. Kedorlaomer’s army, afraid they were under siege from a vast army of troops, fled leaving behind all that they had taken in Sodom, including Lot and his family, and all of their possessions (Vs.14-16).

MELCHIZEDEK BLESSES ABRAM
Genesis 14:17-24

   The writer of the book of Hebrews stated that “GOD declared CHRIST to be a Priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek”. We also know that scripture says that earthly Priests had to come from the “Levite line of Aaron”, in order to serve in the priesthood here on earth. However, before Levi existed, there was an obscure figure in Scriptures, who existed as a priest of GOD, and who was uniquely, both a king, and a Priest, just like JESUS would be. He ruled in the tiny kingdom of Salem (which is now Jerusalem), during the time of Abram.
    As Abram returned from his victory over Kedorlaomer and his allies, the king of wicked Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shevah (called “the King’s Valley), probably to thank him for collaterally freeing him from his captivity by their common enemy.  Seemingly out of nowhere, at the same time, scripture introduces us to one of the most powerful and obscure figures in all the annals of the Old, and New Testament. Scriptural accounts don’t even make mention of his father or his mother, and he seems to be without genealogy as far as where his life begins, or ends. There is one thing that is certain about this man, however, and that is that, GOD knew him, and he knew GOD, and Abram knew them both.
    This biblical account, here in Genesis 14, tells us that this man was qualified to both, bless Abram as a Priest, and, to receive a tithe from Abram as a king. And since the word “bless” (“barak” in the Hebrew), in its biblical application, implies “something that someone does, who has spiritual superiority”, evidently, this man ranked higher spiritually than did Abram, and, in fact, scripture says that “he remains a priest forever” (Hebrews 7:1-3). His name is Melchizedek.
    In the Old Testament, in Psalms 110, which is a “messianic psalm” by David, Melchizedek is seen as a type of Christ. This theme, of course, is repeated in the book of Hebrews, where both CHRIST and Melchizedek are considered as “kings of righteousness and peace”. Some scholars even believe that, here in the book of Genesis, Melchizedek is actually a “Theophany” (“manifestation”) of JESUS HIMSELF.
    In the New Testament, also citing Melchizedek’s unique priesthood as “a prototype for CHRIST”, the writer of Hebrews attempted to show that CHRIST’s priesthood is superior to the old Levitical order of Aaron. And so, we see, according to the writer of Hebrews, that, in JESUS, a different kind of Priest has come, ONE who became a Priest, not by meeting the old requirements of belonging to the tribe of Levi, but rather, by the power of a life that cannot, and will not be destroyed, “a Priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek”.
    Here in Genesis 14, verses 18-20, Melchizedek, the king of Salem, and, a priest of GOD, brought Abram bread and wine to eat, and then, “blessed him” with a solemn, authoritative prayer. Abram then gave Melchizedek a tenth (tithe) of the goods that he had recovered from King Kedorlaomer’s army at Dan. Here we see that Melchizedek is the only person, that scripture tells us, Abram recognized as his spiritual superior under GOD. The act of “blessing” someone, at its root meaning, implies that the “blesser” has spiritual superiority over the “blessee”.  A humble Abram accepted Melchizedek’s blessing, and then paid him a tithe of all that he had.
    In the final segment of this chapter, we see a grateful King Bela of Sodom attempt to strike up a deal with Abram to retrieve some of his lost possessions that had been recovered by Abram. However, Abram, not wanting to become beholding to a person of wickedness, such as King Bela, clearly lets the king know that he wanted no part of his cursed belongings. Here he tells Bela that, “I have solemnly promised the LORD GOD Most High, CREATOR of Heaven and earth, that I will not take so much as a single thread or sandal thong from you, otherwise you might say, “I am the one who made Abram rich!”.
    Abram did, however, accept as payment, the food that his men had already eaten, and also a share of the spoils for his Canaanite allies Mamre, Aner, Eschol, and their families who had helped him defeat their common enemies, Kedorlaomer and his allies. That way Abram was keeping himself free of any obligations to the evil king of Sodom, and showing loyalty to those who showed loyalty to him when he needed them.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website





Saturday, September 1, 2018


BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
larrydalexanderbiblestudies.blogspot.com

BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday September 2, 2018

ABRAM AND LOT SEPARATE
Genesis 13

   The passages comprised in the book of Genesis, chapters 11:27-25:11 are known collectively by modern-day biblical scholars as “The Patriarchal Narratives”. This is simply because it is that section of Scriptures that covers the life of the great Jewish patriarch, Abraham. Abraham is the towering figure to whom the Jews trace their origin and unique position of being “GOD’s chosen people”.
    Their history actually began in earnest, with the succession from Terah, the father of Abram, whose name was later changed, by GOD, to “Abraham”. Terah was also the father of Nahor, and Haran. Haran, who died at an early age, was the father of Lot, who was raised by Terah, and who later would travel with Abram to the land of Canaan.
    In Genesis 13, Moses, the GOD-chosen author of the book of Genesis, writes of Abram’s journey out of Egypt after being ejected from there by the Pharaoh, who was angry with Abram after he deceived him regarding his relationship to Sarai, his wife, telling him that she was his sister, which was a lie. The Pharaoh, as a result of that lie, had sought to marry Sarai, and had given Abram many gifts for that privilege.
    When Abram and his family were forced to leave Egypt, they traveled north into the 4500 square-mile desert region known as “The Negev”. They continued traveling in stages toward Bethel to the place where Abram had previously built an altar to the LORD (between Bethel and Ai). There they set up camp and worshiped the LORD for a time.
    Abram was already 75 years old when they first left Haran, and before that, they had traveled over 700 miles total in their journey beginning from Ur (southern Iraq), which was their birthplace. Now, after leaving Egypt, and coming to where they now camped, having many more possessions, there became a need for Abram and Lot to split up. There was a lack of pastureland to accommodate both of their flocks and herds, and besides that, arguments and fights had began to break out between their herdsmen. In fact, it had gotten so bad that Abram was compelled to talk it over with Lot and suggest that the two families move in separate directions in order to find adequate space for them to exist in comfort and peace. 
    Even though Abram was the oldest, he decided to allow Lot to have first choice, as to which direction they would choose to travel in. Lot took a long look around and then chose the area in the direction of the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley toward Zoar. This was also the area where Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim were located, before GOD destroyed them, because of their wickedness. Today this area is located beneath the Dead Sea, only a few miles offshore, according to archeologists. Abram, on the other hand, stayed put in the land where he was.
    Little did Lot know at the time that he was actually being “tempted by the devil with the beauty of the world”, as he has done many a people. Despite this area’s attractiveness, it was also, perhaps, the most evil area to be found anywhere at that time. There were also ten kings jockeying for position and rulership of this vast, rich and fertile plain. Scripture in fact tells us that the people of that area were “unusually wicked” and sinned greatly against the LORD.
    After Lot left, GOD disclosed to Abram that the land that he chose (GOD had already chosen for him), and was now standing on, would be his land, in every direction, as far as he could see. GOD also promised Abram that HE was going to give him more descendants than could possibly be counted, and that this land would be the permanent possession of his ancestors.
    GOD shows HIS appreciation for the faithfulness of HIS people, and then, HE blesses us accordingly. Whenever we trust GOD, and also deal with each other fairly to resolve our problems and conflicts with each other in a GODly manner, we are doing what GOD expects of us. If we mishandle blessing and prosperity, they can become curses instead. It was because of the many blessings bestowed upon Abram and Lot by GOD, that, they found themselves in this conflict in the first place. However, instead of continuing in their ungodly fighting, they chose to use GODly wisdom to solve their issues with each other and move on.
    And as for Lot, his decision was made based solely on what he saw (which was actually sight unseen) and his desire to obtain it, because of its beauty. He never consulted with and asked GOD which direction he should go. He just took a long look around, chose the beauty, and neglected to investigate the evil spiritual details that were hidden within that beauty.
    Whenever we become prosperous and successful by abiding in GOD, and following HIS rules, GOD often tests us to see how we handle life’s little difficulties. The chronicles of the life of Job is perhaps the ultimate example of that truth. The question then becomes, “Will we remain faithful to GOD when conflicts and troubles emerge in our lives, or will we forget about GOD and try and handle things our way?” Abraham remembered GOD, while Lot chose to go his own way.
    The permissive will of GOD allows for man to do many things, and ultimately, through JESUS’ death, we also, in addition, receive GOD’s wonderful and abounding grace. However, GOD, through HIS wisdom, will never allow “grace” to trump “truth”. For instance, grace does not excuse sin and disobedience without consequences. That’s why, in life, there can never be a “right time” to do the “wrong thing”, and we must continue to abide in, and trust in GOD, in all circumstances.
    Abram gave Lot first choice because he knew that GOD would do what he said he would do regarding all of their lives and this faith came even before they ever left Haran. He knew that despite the chances and changes in life, ultimately GOD would see them through their human issues and conflicts. And GOD accounted Abram righteous because of his faith. And it is still true today that GOD will keep in perfect peace, the mind that stays on HIM, because we trust HIM. For GOD, never changes HIS ways.
    There’s another lesson to be learned here in this passage of Scripture, that will serve us well along the pathways of life, and that is, when we separate ourselves from people, places, and things, make sure that we are not also separating ourselves from the Will of GOD. GOD only wants us to separate ourselves from the people, places, and things that defile us, and not, from the people, places, and things that are GODly, and can keep us spiritually safe.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander