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Bible study: Foundations
The dispensation of Human Government
The Way of negation
1 Corinthians 15:45-48 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. (46) Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. (47) The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. (48) As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
1st Corinthians 15:46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
Here we see the Apostle Paul laying the foundation for the Way of Negation. The name means what it implies, the negative way. This is the method God uses to bring about the process of Sanctification in man. Paul explains it without explaining it. He points to the proto-type Adam, calling him the first Adam, whom he says was made a living soul. The last Adam he says was made a quickening, or life giving spirit. The verb made, as it applies to the last Adam is to be taken with a grain of salt. The first Adam was created, then formed from the dust of the ground and the breath of life connected him spiritually to the father, yet he was only very good. The Divine standard articulated by Christ in Mathew 5:48 is perfection. This being so, the first Adam was less than perfect at creation, having the need for improvement. The last Adam wasn’t created at all. Hebrews 10:5 tells us when he came into the world, he said, ‘a body has thou prepared me’, an indication of his self-existence. Being one with the father, he was perfect and had to undergo change that he might be able to identify with our suffering.
Hebrews 5:8 tells us, though he was a son, he learned obedience by the things he suffered. Then it says, and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him for we have a high priest who can empathize with our feelings of infirmity.
So we see the first Adam was given dominion, only to lose it as he was later tried and trained through the Way of Negation. The last Adam is God himself incarnate. For us he stepped down into darkness, suffering humiliation, indignation and human death, in short he experienced the Way of Negation. The Apostle Paul used the Greek word, Kenosis, meaning to empty, as a way to describe the process the Son of God used to become as we are, so that he could propitiate our sin.
The second Adam is us. All humans saved by the grace of God are the second Adam. Contrary to popular belief, we are not created. We are procreated, just as all second tier life on the planet earth is procreated. Remember the old riddle which came first; the chicken or the egg applies here? The chicken is first tier life, having the seed or the potential for life in itself.
Genesis 1:11-12 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. (12) And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
This fundamental principle of self-perpetuating life is consistent with all life on the planet earth, not just with the herb and the grass. The King James translators were careful to use the term seed in places where child would have conveyed a less specific rendering of the original Hebrew or Greek. The subtlety of the original languages makes it difficult to translate them into English without viewing the words in the overall context of scripture. Then we have the additional burden of metaphors linking ideas as they are presented over the course of time.
If I had to choose one passage of scripture where the Way of Negation is presented best, it would be Genesis 25: 20-23, with verse 23 being the key.
Genesis 25:20-23 And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian. (21) And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. (22) And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD. (23) And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.
Let’s look under the hood here. Isaac is forty years old, the number of probation, preparation or testing. Ten times forty is the number of testing for the nation of Israel. Isaac is one of the sons of God as established in Genesis 4:26, where it says, then men began to call on the name of the Lord. We know from Romans 10:13 that those who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. Isaac is the seed of Abraham, the son of God by faith.
The descendants of Seth are the sons of God referred to in Genesis chapter six, where we are told giants were born as a result of the sons of God being unequally yoked with unbelievers.
Eve, the wife of the first son of God, Adam, is related to Isaac’s wife Rebekah in that they are both representatives of the flesh. Adam is the son of God having in himself the breath of life or the spirit of God. Eve is made after the flesh. Rebekah is also of the flesh because as God breathed only once, he called only one man Abraham. Both women are types of the flesh, driven by the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life. The daughters of men described in Genesis chapter six are driven by the same desires. Later in Genesis chapter six because of this corruption, the creation itself is judged by God to have become unfruitful and fitted for destruction. The flood follows.
The union of Isaac and Rebekah, the daughter of a Syrian, who we will later learn is a scoundrel, is another union of the sons of God and the daughters of men, the third such union mentioned specifically in scripture. It is from this union that God will bring forth the example we see in Israel, the chosen people. Both sons of Isaac are negative, neither exhibits the character traits of their predecessors Seth or Enoch, of whom it is said, walked with God and was not, for God took him.
Jacob was chosen by God for reasons known only to God himself. God extended grace to Abraham’s seed, fulfilling a promise we see repeated in Romans nine.
Romans 9:7-8 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. (8) That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.
The forty years mentioned at the beginning of Genesis 25:20 is an indication Isaac has passed a probationary period. He is given a wife after forty years, an example of virtue, presented for the first time in scripture, after the flood, with the exception of Job, who is the perfect example of virtue. Isaac is born thirteen years after the birth of Ishmael. Ishmael is the example of the natural preceding the spiritual, Cain was born one hundred and thirty years before the birth of Seth, the father of the first to call on the name of the Lord. The number thirteen and the number 130 are both indicators of spiritual negativity, 130 simply being a multiple of 13.
The blessing of God is Purposeful, Positional, and Conditional. The Purpose of God is revealed through the promise of God. The promise of God requires something from the people of God, that requirement is faith, that faith comes by hearing the word, believing the word, trusting the word and walking in the word, even as Abraham did.
Abraham is the prime example of a man called by God to live a life of faith, a man who through a series of steps and miss-steps, finally walks humbly with God.
Walking humbly with God requires a degree of trust that goes beyond the natural. We as natural human beings learn from our senses. We believe in what we see and in what we believe, we invest our trust. That trust produces a human level of faith that allows us to sit in a chair without the fear of falling or ride in an automobile at incredibly high speed without the fear of crashing. Hearing the promises of God, believing and trusting in them, produces a foundation of faith on which our hopes may rest. It also produces in our hearts tangible proof that we will have exactly what we hope for. This is not saving faith, saving faith is a gift from God. It is initiated by God. It has to be initiated by God because we are dead spiritually, meaning we are dead to the things of God, having no potential for the Divine.
Abraham, moved from the position where God placed him, out of fear of a famine that was in the land. He went down into Egypt, the fear escalated as he moved further away from the will of God. As Abraham approached Egypt his negative positioning caused him to draw his wife into his tangled web.
Genesis 12:11-18 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: (12) Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. (13) Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee. (14) And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. (15) The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. (16) And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. (17) And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife. (18) And Pharaoh called Abram, and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?
God doesn’t reward Abraham’s disobedience but he does reward the obedience of his wife, Sarah. She is put into a very dangerous situation. She does the will of her husband, who is a man of God, even though he is in error at the time. God is faithful and protects her and her reputation. Abraham realizes the error of his ways and repents, in repentance he turns from his error in more ways than one.
Genesis 13:1-4 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south. (2) And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold. (3) And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai; (4) Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.
The Blessing of God is Purposeful, Positional and Conditional. Through his wife, Abraham was blessed even in his failure to maintain his position. Sarah fulfilled her purpose in the marriage, by being the proper helpmate, yielding to the will of her husband while trusting in the power of God. Her husband failed to trust in God’s power and ability to protect him in a time of danger.
Abraham fails in that he abandons the position he established in building the Alter. The Alter is an acknowledgement that he is in the position where God placed him. The famine comes to test his resolve. As his fear mounts, his resolve fails and he goes down. Down into Egypt where he abandons his role as leader for the first time. He mistakenly depends on the protection of a lie. His wife is fully submitted to him in his error and would later feel justified in giving him bad advice, which he takes, once again abandoning his role as leader. Throughout this time of testing and preparation, God is faithful and Abraham’s faith is strengthened as he is prepared through the Way of Negation to be the father of the faithful.
Abraham had twelve great grandsons, the youngest of which dreamed he would rule over his elder brothers. This dream caused a great deal of strife between his brothers and himself.
Genesis 37:6-11 And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream which I have dreamed: (7) For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and, lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and, behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. (8) And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dreams, and for his words. (9) And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. (10) And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? (11) And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.
The blessing of God doesn’t always look like a blessing at all. The blessing Joseph saw in his dream appeared to his brothers and his father as an insult and a manifestation of pride.
Just as Abraham went down into Egypt as a place of testing his faith, Joseph finds Egypt will be the place where his dream is tested after his brothers cast him into a pit in an attempt to take his life. They changed their minds, choosing instead to sell him into slavery. He is sold as a slave to a man in Egypt where he is falsely accused of attempted rape, landing him in prison. In prison, he meets two men, both of whom had dreams. One was cupbearer to the Pharaoh and the other was the baker. The Cupbearer asked Joseph the meaning of his dream.
Genesis 40:12-23 And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days: (13) Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh's cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler. (14) But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house: (15) For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon. (16) When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three white baskets on my head: (17) And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats for Pharaoh; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head. (18) And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: The three baskets are three days: (19) Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee. (20) And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants. (21) And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand: (22) But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them. (23) Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.
It would be more than two years Joseph would wait in prison, maintaining the position God had allowed. Then the Pharaoh had a dream and the chief butler’s memory was quickened. He sent for Joseph and said to him, I hear you can interpret a dream.
Genesis 41:16-40 And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace. (25) And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do. (26) The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one. (27) And the seven thin and ill favoured kine that came up after them are seven years; and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine. (28) This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh. (29) Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: (30) And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land; (31) And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous. (32) And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. (33) Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. (34) Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years. (35) And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. (36) And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine. (37) And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants. (38) And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? (39) And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: (40) Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.
Joseph went from the pit, where he was thrown and left to die, to being sold to the Midianites, who in turn sold him to Potiphar, where he was falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison. After more than two years in prison, God used the dreams of others to bring the dream of Joseph back into focus, but not just yet.
Genesis 41:50-52 And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him. (51) And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house. (52) And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.
Joseph now had position, power and a new family, complete with sons of his own. Years later he would see his brothers again. When announced to his brothers who he was, they were in shock.
Genesis 45:5-11 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. (6) For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. (7) And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. (8) So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. (9) Haste ye, and go up to my father, and say unto him, Thus saith thy son Joseph, God hath made me lord of all Egypt: come down unto me, tarry not: (10) And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children's children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast.
The Blessing of God is Purposeful, Positional and Conditional. Joseph and Abraham were both tested by famine. Abraham sought to escape the hardship but God used the situation to reveal to him the extent of his grace. Because of his wife and her faith, God kept them from hurt, harm and danger, giving Abraham enough time to see his error and repent. It may seem like Sarah isn’t a picture of the flesh, given the courage she showed in submitting to her husband’s foolhardy demand. He told her to she say she was his sister and not his wife. Actually, she and Rebekah have more in common than heathen ancestors. They were each barren, requiring a move of God before they could have children. Leah, one of the wives of Isaac’s son Jacob would be barren as well, yet she would be the mother of seven of the twelve Patriarchs, Israel.
Joseph on the other hand never wavered in faith and never compromised his integrity. God extended protection to him but he was protected in the fire and not from the fire.
Father, in the name of Jesus, we thank you for your word. We thank you for providing insight into the process by which we are being delivered from the corruption that is in this world through lust. We thank you for making available to us the promises, by which we may obtain the Divine nature, the very likeness of Christ. Strengthen us, empower us, and help thou our unbelief, so that we may spend eternity in your presence, in Jesus name we pray, Amen. gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. (36) And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine. (37) And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants. (38) And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? (39) And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: (40) Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.
The Blessing of God is Purposeful, Positional and Conditional. Joseph and Abraham were both tested by famine. Abraham sought to escape the hardship but God used the situation to reveal to him the extent of his grace. Because of his wife and her faith, God kept them from hurt, harm and danger, giving Abraham enough time to see his error and repent. It may seem like Sarah