Friday, May 10, 2019

Rebekah and Her Son - Mother's Day 2019


Genesis 25:19-26


The theme of a woman being barren; unable to conceive children is a familiar one in the Bible.  We see it with Rebekah’s own mother-in-law Sarah, who in God’s timing bore Isaac.  A similar circumstance would play out with Jacob’s wife Rachel before she finally bore Joseph.  We read yet another similar story from ancient Israel about a woman named Hannah, who also prayed for a son, and was answered with the birth of Samuel the prophet. Finally, we read in the New Testament how a woman named Elizabeth was barren, but in her old age bore a son who we know as John the Baptist.
One common element that we see in all of these situations is how these mothers were instrumental in carrying out Jehovah’s plans for the nation of Israel.  With some of them such as Hannah and Elizabeth we hear only of their obedience and faithfulness.   In contrast, both Sarah and Rachel, in their impatience, tried to help God out in the area of providing offspring for their respective husbands.  Of course God used their interference for his own purpose despite what we might see as their wavering faith.  Rebekah, on the other hand, played her part as a mother in a manner that is a little more difficult to label.  What I am referring to, of course, is how Rebekah was instrumental in Jacob obtaining his father’s blessing.  To understand all of that, we need to remember a few things about Esau.
When we read on in scripture we find that at one point Esau sold his birthright, that is the benefits he would have as the first born son, to his brother Jacob.  In doing so, the Bible says that he despised his birthright.  Later Esau went against the wishes of his grandfather Abraham who specifically commanded his son not to take a wife from among the Canaanites who were known for their idolatry. This admonition seems to have been passed down by Isaac because Genesis 26:35 tells us that Esau’s marriages to two Hittite women were a “grief of mind” to Isaac and Rebekah.  It is very likely that Esau joined his wives in their idolatry, since it is clear that he did not worship Jehovah.  Those things, along with God’s promise at the time of their birth that the elder would serve the younger would seem to be enough to clearly make Esau the black sheep of the family. 
And yet, when Isaac was old and thought he may die soon, he still loved Esau enough that he attempted to bestow the ceremonial blessing on him, though Jacob had purchased the birthright.  This may have been a case of Isaac’s natural affection getting the better of him.  After all, what father doesn’t want his son to be a manly man, and Esau certainly was that.  As the Bible tells us, Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, or as some translations make it a “simple” or “quiet” man.  So, despite all of the strikes against Esau, his father Isaac called him in to bestow the blessing on him.  But first, he requested that Esau would bring him a meal of his famous wild game pot roast. 
That is where Rebekah stepped in.  Knowing God’s words concerning the two boys that Esau would serve Jacob, knowing the contempt Esau had shown for his birthright in selling it, and also knowing Esau’s worldliness in marrying idolaters, she decided to make sure her son Jacob received the blessing which Jehovah had declared he would receive.
Rebekah, simply put, engineered a way for Jacob to obtain the blessing by deceiving his father Isaac.  She instructed Jacob to bring her two young goats which she prepared so that they would taste just like the dish that Esau was known for.  No surprise there; who else but his mother would have taught Esau how to cook?  Then Rebekah helped Jacob to disguise himself as his brother and instructed him to go in to his father pretending to be Esau and receive the blessing.  The trickery was successful, and Jacob obtained the blessing, fulfilling the words of Jehovah at the birth of the two boys.
The question then comes up: was Rebekah justified in using deceit in this instance?  Some propose that she should have gone in to her husband and reminded him of God’s promise concerning his two sons; reminded him that Esau sold his birthright; remind him that Esau turned his back on them to marry idolaters.  Certainly she should have been able to reason with him to make him understand that the blessing should go to Jacob! 
Well, maybe that would have been the right approach, but if we are to give Rebekah the benefit of the doubt we might consider that she probably knew her husband’s disposition better than we do.  Scholars seem to agree that Isaac was likely 137 years old at the time of the giving of the blessing.  Since the Bible tells us that Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah, that means they were soon coming up on their 100th wedding anniversary!  I think by that time Rebekah probably had a pretty good handle on what she could or could not convince her husband to do!
So, since our theme is Mother’s Day, rather than speculate on whether Rebekah could have, or should have done some things differently, let’s celebrate her faithfulness.  Rebekah received Jehovah’s promise that her son Jacob would be blessed.  She held on to that promise and did not let natural affection for her other son get in the way of her love for God and respect for his decree.  In fact, Rebekah not only respected what God had told her, she did what she could to carry out Jehovah’s decree. 
Now, if you have been blessed to have had a God-fearing mother or even to have known one or more, you can probably see some similarities between them and Rebekah. They too probably did their best to follow Jehovah’s decrees.  No doubt they practiced what it says in Ephesians about bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).  I am sure that they took heed to the teaching in Proverbs and attempted to train up their children in the way they should go, so that when they are old, they will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6)
Certainly, some of those mothers have done what they could to make sure that it could be said of their children what was said of Timothy; that from a child they knew the holy scripture which was able to make them wise unto salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 3:15).
These are the things which cause us to honor those who are mothers.  And all of these things are based in love.  Love for your children, but even more important, love for God.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Colorado Hog Rally 1985

Keeping in mind that there is somewhat of a "revival" of motorcycle drag racing scheduled over the 4th of July weekend this year in Humboldt, or what is now known as North Iowa Dragway , I recently added a post with pictures from the 1985 Iowa Hog Drags. So, now I thought I would add a few pics of what was, back in 1985, the next race on the schedule for the HDRA.  That of course was the Colorado Hog Rally held outside of Colorado Springs.  You might guess from the pictures that the strip was on the east (less scenic) side of "the Springs."




Tator Gilmore on his earlier single engine fuel bike

 
MO or Marion Owens on his double engine Shovel



A scene from the pit area


Not sure who ran this Sportster, but he had a classy tow bike


MO in the left hand lane, can't quite make out who is on the right



Griz Robinson from the Chop Shop with his first Top Fuel Bike


Bobby on our bike getting ready for a pass


 "Bad to the Bone"
The bike pictured above was named "Bad to the Bone" - it was a Sportster in a Yetman frame running (very well) in the Dragster Eliminator class which in other sanctions would be called Top Gas.  I do recall that it ran in the fives in Iowa (1/8 mile) and the owner, who was from Texas, did not pilot it himself because he said he was too big for it to be safe with him on it. 


Don't know who this is, but this shot at least shows that the track did actually have a spot for spectators


A Shovel sporting a blower - may have been a Colorado bike


Bobby in the right lane


Bike loaded and ready to go home with another trophy


Note the fancy trailer we made the trip to Colorado with.  Guess I was a bit too tall for the top of my head to fit in the photo, but in the middle is my good friend Stan from Pueblo, who we stayed with the night before the races.  Bobby was still grinning after his second win in a row.


Friday, April 19, 2019

An Empty Tomb




Now late on the sabbath day, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.  And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled away the stone, and sat upon it. His appearance was as lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the watchers did quake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye; for I know that ye seek Jesus, who hath been crucified.  He is not here; for he is risen, even as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.  And go quickly, and tell his disciples, He is risen from the dead; and lo, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. - Matthew 28:1-7



Almost all Christians would agree that the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most significant event in history.  The reason for the significance of Christ's death are fairly obvious.  He took upon himself the punishment for our sins, so that we might be reconciled to God the Father.  The significance of Jesus' resurrection, however, are sometimes not quite so apparent.  That is what I would like to look at today.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is significant because it is proof of a number of very important things.



1. First and foremost, Christ's resurrection is our proof that he is who he claims to be, that being the unique Son of God, God taking on human flesh, the second person of the Trinity.

Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead - Romans 1:3-4



2.  The resurrection is proof that Jesus is the righteous judge who will judge us all. In Athens, a city which the Bible describes as being completely given over to idolatry at that particular point in time, Paul preached these words regarding that idolatry:

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:  Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.  And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, we will hear thee again of this matter. - Acts 17:30-32


I think it’s worth noting that our country today would likely rival, if not surpass 1st century Athens for idolatry, and one will also receive the same response to a declaration of the resurrection; namely mockery from some, but also some who are willing to hear more.  But what this scripture tells us about the resurrection is that it is proof that judgment is coming, that Jesus is the Judge, and of the righteousness with which he will judge. We also see this in 2 Corinthians 5:10 -  For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.



3.  The resurrection of Jesus is proof of our justification before God.  We find this in the 3rd verse of chapter 4 of Paul's letter to the Romans:  For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. 

And a few verses further on he adds this:

And therefore [still speaking of faith] it was imputed to him for righteousness.  Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. - Romans 4:22-25



In other words, the resurrection of Jesus Christ proves that the payment he made for sins was accepted by God the Father.



4.  The resurrection is also proof of victory over death. 

Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. - Romans 6:8-9



Likewise, if we are in Christ, then in him we have won the victory over death as we are told in 1 Corinthians 15:54-57  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.



5.  Jesus resurrection is proof that we will also be resurrected;

If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.  But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.  For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.  But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. - 1 Corinthians 15:19-23



6. Finally the resurrection of Jesus provides us with the eager expectation that we have a place reserved for us in heaven that will last through eternity.



Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you - 1 Peter 1:3-4



Did you catch that?  According to his abundant mercy God has begotten us again, or as some translations put it, caused us to be born again to a living hope.   Do you have that living hope? 



Jesus' resurrection from the dead is the proof that all these things are true.  That you can have an eternal inheritance in heaven.  Proof that if you belong to Christ you too will be resurrected from the dead.  That you can have the victory over death.  Christ's resurrection is proof that his payment for sinners on the cross was accepted by the Father and stamped "Paid In Full."  But his resurrection is also proof that Jesus is the Son of God who is the righteous Judge.  And that brings us back to the death which Christ was raised from.  He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sin.  Do you believe that? 



For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. - John 3:16-18



There we have two different groups of people, and everyone belongs to one of these two groups.  Either you are one who believes and has the promise of an eternal inheritance, or you are one who does not believe and is condemned.  But God, by his grace, has made it possible for a person to leave the group who are condemned simply by turning from sin and to Jesus, believing on Him. 

 

And why should you believe? Because of proof.  By his resurrection from the dead Jesus proved that he is the Son of God and that he is the one who will judge all men. By his resurrection from the dead Jesus proved that his followers are justified before God, that he has won the victory over death, and that they too will be resurrected. We have certainly been given enough proof.  If you believe, then you already have the victory through Christ.  If not, won’t you ask God to give you faith? Won't you submit to his love?