GOD, FACE TO FACE CHAPTER SEVEN (CONTINUED)

CHAPTER SEVEN (CONTINUED): The issue extends beyond the gender of the Holy Spirit

One further Biblical suggestion needs to be addressed regarding the importance of gender in the relationships within Godhead and between the spiritual Church and Jesus Christ.  In Genesis 17, God talks to Abraham, telling him of a blessing that he will receive that will greatly impact the future of mankind:

“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.  And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.  And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, As for Me, behold, My covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.  Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.  And I will make thee exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.  And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.  And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a sojourner, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.

 

          “And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep My covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.  This is My covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee.  Every male child among you shall be circumcised.  And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you.  And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any foreigner who is not of thy seed.  He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.  And the uncircumcised male child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken My covenant.

 

          “And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai, thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.  And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.  Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old?  And shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?  And Abraham said unto God, Oh, that Ishmael might live before thee!  And God said, Sarah, thy wife, shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac; and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.”

 

          The primary theme of this passage continues in Genesis 18:11-14:

“Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.  Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I have become old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?  And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying Shall I of a surety bear a child, who am old?  Is anything too hard for the Lord?  At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.”

I now present the gender issue to the reader by way of a question involving the passage above that requires nothing more or less than a common-sense answer:  Why, if God isn’t intimately and personally involved in gender, would He present one of the most important transactions between Him and the human race in terms of a sexual miracle?

As God had suggested, nothing is too hard for Him to accomplish.  If God were indeed above gender, as many past and present theologians insist, He certainly could have altered the story line and associated miracle to remove sexuality from it.

Sarah would bear their son Isaac the next year.  Why indeed would God demand a token response of Abraham and his offspring in the form of the sexual ritual of male circumcision?  This ritual had little or nothing to do with cleanliness.  The human race had survived for centuries before the ritual was established.  In Acts 7:51, Paul echoes Ezekiel 36:26 in furnishing a hint as to the real purpose of the ritual:

“Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do ye.”

 

In a very graphic way, Paul used the term to chastise his audience for their lack of sensitivity toward God.  That was indeed the imagery that God intended to convey to the nation of Israel through the institution of the rite.

Isaac was the son of Abraham through his lifelong marital partner, as God had intended marriage to be.  Through Abraham’s intended sacrifice of Isaac later, Abraham became a strong type of God the Father, while Isaac represented the Jesus as Lamb of God who was obedient to the cross.  Years later, Abraham sought a suitable wife for Isaac, one who would maintain Isaac as a strong type of Christ.  The account is in Genesis 24:10-32:

“And the servant took ten camels of the camels of [Abraham], and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor.  And he made his camels to kneel down outside the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water.  And he said, O Lord god of my master, Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and show kindness unto my master, Abraham.  Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water; and let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also; let her be the one whom thou hast appointed for thy servant, Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shown kindness unto my master.

 

          “And it came to pass, before he had finished speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder.  And the damsel was very fair to look upon, a virgin, neither had any man known her; and she went down to the well, and filled her pitcher, and came up.  And the servant ran to meet her, and said, Let me, I pray thee, drink a little water from thy pitcher.  And she said, Drink, my lord: and she hastened, and let down her pitcher upon her hand, and gave him drink.  And when she had finished giving him drink, she said, I will draw water for thy camels also, until they have finished drinking.  And she hastened, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels.  And the man, wondering at her, held his peace, to learn whether the Lord had made his journey prosperous or not.

 

‘And it came to pass, as the camels had finished drinking, that the man took a golden ring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her wrists of ten shekels weight of gold; and said, Whose daughter art thou?  Tell me, I pray thee: is there room in thy father’s house for us to lodge in?  And she said unto him, I am the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah, whom she bore unto Nahor.  She said moreover unto him, We have both straw and fodder enough, and room to lodge in.  And the man bowed down his head and worshiped the Lord.  And he said, Blessed be the Lord God  of my master, Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren.  And the dams and he ungirded his camels, and gave straw and fodder for the camels, and water to wash his feet, and the men;s feet that were with him.  And there was set food before him to eat: but he said, I will not eat, until I have told mine errand.”

 

The man related to Laban and the others the unique way that God had precisely answered his elaborate test for the suitability of Rebekah for marriage to Isaac.  Then the man gave Laban the riches he had brought with him on the camels.  Laban responded by consenting to the marriage.  But as the man prepared to return to Abraham with Rebekah, Laban backed off somewhat, asking for another ten days before giving up his sister.  At that point, almost as an afterthought, they decided to ask for Rebekah’s consent as well.  (As a side point, I see some implication in that regarding the issue of free will, most often expressed as the Calvinist/Arminian divide among Christians)

After receiving Rebekah’s consent to the marriage, they journey back to Abraham’s home, where Isaac marries Rebekah.  She gives birth to Jacob and Esau.  Jacob is renamed Israel by God, continuing on the bloodline to Jesus Christ.

I offer another question to the reader: What was so important about Isaac’s marriage to Rebekah that it involved such an intricate selection process that was so detailed in Scripture?  Permit me to answer that one:  Isaac, who was a strong type of Christ, continued to be a type in this marital relationship, anticipating the future role of the Church as the Bride of Christ.  Paul expressed this blessed hope quite boldly in Ephesians 5:31 and 32:

“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church.”

 

Christians sometimes claim that Jesus never married, nor ever will marry, perceiving Him to be “above” sexual matters.  Others claim that He did marry, to Mary Magdalene.  I would claim that both these presuppositions are wrong with immense implications regarding our understanding of God, suggesting instead that Jesus never married on Earth because He already is betrothed to his future wife, the Church.  I see Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding in Cana as anticipating the joy of that future marriage.               

           

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