Communion in Genesis

communion

*Image from crosswalk.com

The act of taking communion is one of the most sacred acts that a believer in Jesus can do. We are told to do it often, even as often as every time we gather together with other believers. Jesus celebrated it with His disciples the night before He carried out the very act it represents. But this was not the first the symbolism of communion was given in the Bible. There are several we can point to but I’d like to focus in on one passage out of the book of Genesis. To understand the context of this passage lets rewind a bit. Abraham had just rescued Lot and many others from enemies in the region. The mysterious figure of Melchizedek, King of Salem, came out to meet Abraham to celebrate the victory. Here’s the passage:

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said,

“Blessed be Abram of God Most High,
Possessor of heaven and earth;
And blessed be God Most High,
Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.”

He gave him a tenth of all. The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself.” Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have sworn to the Lord God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’

Genesis 14:18-23 NASB

#1-Bread and Wine: While this was a common feature in most ancient meals, it’s symbolic importance can it be ignored. They became integral parts of the Passover meal, which was a foreshadowing in itself of the very thing that the communion represents, the death of Jesus our Messiah. Jesus himself used these two elements to represent His sacrifice during the last supper.

#2-High Priest: Melchizedek is named as the priest and king of Salem. This is the city that would later become Jerusalem. Only one other figure in all of the Bible is mentioned as being both priest and king…Jesus. In Israel, those two positions were kept separate. But in Jesus, they came together as one as Jesus became both our High Priest and the King of kings. The duty of the priest was to mediate or make peace, between God and man.  Communion represents the ultimate act that brought that peace for us. Instead of daily and yearly sacrifices, Jesus made one final sacrifice for all time.

#3-God’s deliverance: In this passage, God delivered Abraham, Lot, and the people from their captors. God did the same thing on a bigger scale in the rescue from slavery in Egypt remembered in the Passover meal. God did it again in an even bigger way through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. Because of Him, we have been delivered from the bondage of sin and death.

More than those connections to the symbolism in communion, Abraham’s response in the passage can instruct us on our response to God’s grace in our own lives. Abraham’s heart was full of gratitude, no greedy for gain. He must have realized that God’s victory had been won and there remained nothing more precious for him to possess. Here is what Matthew Henry’s commentary says on the matter:

Observe the king of Sodom’s grateful offer to Abram, Give me the souls, and take thou the substance. Gratitude teaches us to recompense to the utmost of our power, those that have undergone fatigues, run hazards, and been at expense for our service and benefit. Abram generously refused this offer. He accompanies his refusal with a good reason, Lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: which would reflect upon the promise promise and covenant of God, as if He would not have enriched Abraham without the spoils of Sodom. The people of God must, for their credit’s sake, take heed of doing any thing that looks mean or mercenary, or that savors of covetousness and self-seeking. Abraham can trust the Possessor of Heaven and earth to provide for him.

Communion is a celebration of that ultimate and fully sufficient provision from the Possessor of Heaven and earth. Praise God for His amazing love!

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters

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The Sacrifice of a Son

This is just the third post in the series on how God revealed our Messiah. We’re barely scratching the surface but today’s post will wrap up our time in the book of Genesis. Enjoy.

God is mysterious. No doubt about that. But when it comes to His plan to redeem a fallen creation, He’s made it pretty unmistakable. It would take God himself to pay the price we owe. Even in the moments following the sin of Adam and Eve, God sacrificed animals in the garden to cover their nakedness and shame.

“And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”

Genesis‬ ‭3:21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The animal that provided the garment for humanity was innocent. But sin equals death. And it takes life to restore life. The animal from the garden certainly didn’t remove the sin of man, nor restore them to life, but it pointed to a greater sacrifice that would. But this image in Genesis chapter three isn’t the only one that would point to the role of the Messiah. Another great foreshadowing appears in chapter 22 of the same book.

God calls on Abraham to take his son to a mountain, three days journey away, and offer him up. I know. That’s hard to swallow. But it becomes obvious that God had no intention of allowing Abraham’s son to be sacrificed because God would once again provide the sacrifice Himself.

“Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.””

Genesis‬ ‭22:5-14‬ ‭ESV

So much in this story points ahead to the Messiah. First, the picture of a son being given. Isaac wasn’t the sacrifice, only an illustration of the Son to come.

“”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

John‬ ‭3:16-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The Messiah would have to be ‘of God’ like a son. But not like a son in the human sense. Far closer. When the Bible talks about Yeshua as the Son of God, it is saying that He is from the bosom of Yahweh. He is connected in such a way that they are inseparable. But Jesus became the physical manifestation of the invisible God. And that physical manifestation would be offered in our place.

The second picture in the story of Genesis 22 is that of the ram caught in the thicket. Another title of the Messiah is the Lamb of God. The lamb to be the provision of sacrifice provided by God Himself. In the first chapter of John, baptisms were being done by a man named John the Baptist, to prepare people for the coming of the Messiah. Upon seeing Jesus John says,

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

John‬ ‭1:29‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The Messiah is the Son and He is the Lamb. In both roles, He would be the sacrifice of God to save a sinful broken world. And the Lord did provide. Just as the prophecy foretold in Genesis 22. And if that’s not amazing evidence by itself, the mountain that the story takes place on is the same one on which Yeshua the Messiah would lay down His life. Nearly 2000 years later. And the wood for the altar would not be for fire but in the shape of a cross. A cross that our Messiah was nailed to. For us. For love.

Peace brothers and sisters

Enter the Messiah

The title Messiah means anointed one sent of God. It is one of the most cherished titles among both Jews and Christians alike. The purpose of the one who would hold this title would incorporate so many facets. The Messiah would be a redeemer, a conquering king, a servant, and both humiliated and glorified. To be the Messiah one would have to embody both God’s character and His power. The Messiah would be utterly unique and set apart from anything in existence. The Messiah was God’s mission from the very first pages of the Bible. The reason? Humanity chose a path where the only solution that a loving God could have, would be salvation. And every single human in history has needed it.

In Genesis chapter three, a sneaky new character makes an appearance: the serpent. There’s much speculation surrounding what exactly this serpent is but one thing we can agree on: it is evil and it opposes God. For that reason, most believe that it is either the Devil himself, or him embodied in a reptilian creature of some sort. Regardless of which it is, this serpent is Satan, which means God’s adversary. We can make this claim because of what he does in one short chapter. He deceived Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. It is this free will choice that makes salvation for humanity a necessity of love. I insert the ‘love’ in there because a detached god would simply allow humanity to pine away in their misery and offer no possible escape. But Yahweh (God) cannot. His character demands pursuit and a passionate commitment to His creation. Enter the Messiah.

Genesis chapter three contains both the fall of man and the redemption of God. The response of God to our tragic mistake is swift and powerful. In Genesis 3:14-15 God announces that the serpent is cursed and that:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

Genesis‬ ‭3:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This one verse says so much about the Messiah and introduces us to who exactly that Messiah is. Let’s break it down. The seed of the woman shall deal a fatal blow to the serpent…the adversary…Satan. The blow to his head would render him ineffective and useless. The reference here to just the woman is the first place where the Messiah is mentioned to be born of a virgin. Otherwise, he would belong to the seed of both the man and woman. But that is not what the Bible says. Nearly 2000 years ago, Yeshua (Jesus) became the only person in history to be born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18 and Galatian 4:4-5). This is just the first of many prophecies that reveal Yeshua as the Messiah of God’s redemptive plan. He also fit the second criteria by fatally wounding the deceiver of mankind. The blow that Yeshua dealt by dying on the cross, was, in fact, fatal and the serpent has been suffering from its wounds ever since. Eventually to succumb to those wounds and to die a painful death that never ends. The consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin were destroyed for everyone who believes in Jesus (Hebrews 2:14-15). This blow came at a great cost though. Genesis 3 said that the seed’s (Messiah’s) heal would be bruised by the serpent. A picture of suffering. Just read Matthew 26 and 27. To get a picture of Jesus’ suffering. It was the price of our sin that caused that suffering for the Messiah. A theme that will resurface over and over.

And there remains a final blow yet to be dealt. This will happen when the serpent is cast into utter darkness for good at the second coming of the Messiah (Revelation 20:7-10). This is a day when it is said that Jesus will return as conquering King to reclaim, once and for all, His creation. A day in the future, only known by God himself. A day when life will flourish and the stain of humanity’s error is removed. Praise Jesus for His victory now and His victory then. The serpent’s days are finished.

‬‬“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
 “O death, where is your victory?
  O death, where is your sting?

1 Corinthians 15:55 ESV