Importance of the Second Son P4

Ephraim the Helmet

                                                     Ephraim and Manasseh

Before Jacob died he had an audience with Joseph and his two sons. Manasseh and Ephraim were adopted into Jacobs family and became his so that they would be properly blessed. Here is what Scripture tells us

17 When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 And Joseph said to his father, “Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.” 19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.” 20 So he blessed them that day, saying,

“By you Israel will pronounce blessings, saying, ‘God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh.’”

Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh.

Genesis 48:17-20

He did give both a blessing but the better of the blessings fell on Ephraim. Why did Jacob do this? Was it because he was biased? Or did he understand the need for a younger, stronger nation to be built up. Was it because Manasseh actually lived up to his names meaning, ”forgetfulness”, while Ephraim means, “fruitfulness”. In his blessing Jacob says his younger brother will be greater than he, what does he mean?

Ephraim is spoken of more than Manasseh and suffers curses as well as many blessings. When the kingdom split into two Ephraim was the lead house in the northern kingdom while Judah maintained the south. Ephraim is known to be a mixture of nations and is it unknown how many are truly out there.

Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah is my scepter Psalm 108:8

Judah is the Scepter….which is the holder of the Kingdom power. Judah is at the seat of the city called holy and the ruling party of God’s Kingdom will sit in Jerusalem. Ephraim is the helmet….the strength of numbers, the strong arm of God. Ephraim will be numerous and as there is strength in numbers they also must be strong in their faith. But something went wrong…..

Ephraim has been known as the largest grouping of many ethnicities which eludes to Ephraim being America with many houses of Jacob intertwined with the world. The book of Hosea shares many things about future Ephraim in 7:11 Ephraim is called a silly dove; 8:9 says that Ephraim has hired lovers. Here is something that is relevant to this very day:

“Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake unturned. Aliens have devoured his strength, But he does not know it; Yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, Yet he does not know it.    Hosea 7:8-9

This is a rabbit hole that will hurt. We are a melting pot of many nations this “cake unturned” is a half- baked notion that though we live together we do not truly live as one. There are so many ethnic divisions that cause way to much strife and this will leave us wide open for destruction from within.

If Ephraim is America then we are in deep trouble. Hosea mentions many of the issues we are having from what once was great has caused great tribulation. We led in agriculture but have now poisoned ourselves and the land with Genetically Modified Organisms. We are the richest country but this will be our downfall as greed will overtake the leaders and rich, destroying the economy. We have become harlots from Israel as many in this place have forgotten God and began to serve pagans (false religions and false Christian doctrine). All the attempts to live as one will not work as long as there is still an ethnic and religious division. We are one country with many tribes, as long as these tribes continue to self-identify and spit hate at the others, we will not be one. As long as there is mental dysfunction  causing confusion from what God made and people think they know themselves better than God, there will be disharmony and civil unrest. As long as God’s law continues to be distorted by man, there will be wrath from above which will wipe us out.

What can we learn from Ephraim?? If what Hosea says is true about America then it is time to get out of there, not keep trying to get there. The country is still young and has lost the original premise of the fore-fathers. It is a land of hate and dissention where even those in charge cannot get along because of their misunderstandings and the greed that has infected the government.

But you know something? There is hope. There is a promise, a man, a father, and a friend, who gave us something wonderful. Jesus came to save the wretched, the poor, the greedy, the lost, the hurt, the hopeless, kings, paupers, nobles, servants, warriors, masters, slaves. He came to save us all from our sins by giving up His life on the cross and defeating death once and for all. All we need do is believe in Him and follow Him with our own crosses suffering to do His will and having a fullness of life.

As we come to a close today We need to pray for God to guide us in His ways so that we can be the lights in this dark and weary world. For the Ephraim’s we pray that God will have mercy and look into our souls to save us as we cry out in Jesus Name. Jesus we ask You to do Your will in us through the Holy Spirit so that we can go and make Disciples of ALL men. Thank You Lord. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Importance of the Second Son P3

Jacob and Esau

AND GOD told Rebekah

“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.”
Gen 25: 23
The Younger, Jacob, had known that he would always fight with his brother Esau for the affections of his father. Early in their years Jacob saw an opportunity to make himself better than his brother and Esau sold his birthright over a bowl of stew. Later, when Isaac was near death, it was time for the blessing and Esau was hoping to receive at least that. Well, Rebekah heard the conversation where Isaac wanted Esau to hunt and prepare him a meal then he would bless him. Rebekah, remembering God’s promise dressed Jacob in fur and rubbed a scent which smelled of his brother.
Listen to the blessing Jacob stole:
“Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed.
28 May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness—an abundance of grain and new wine.
29 May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers, and may the sons of your mother bow down to you.
May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.”
Gen 27: 27-29

Upon Esau’s return, he prepared the food and came to his father. Isaac realized he was swindled and after much hesitation gave Esau this blessing:
“Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above. 40 You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother.
But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.”
Gen 27:39-40

Obviously this does not set well. Esau wanted Jacob’s head so Isaac and Rebekah sent Jacob to live with Laban so he would marry a Canaanite woman. Esau, recognizing the distaste for his Hittite wives, went and married a daughter of Ishmael.

I could speak more of Jacob’s redemptive journey but let’s take a look at his importance:
Jacob was a conniving momma’s boy who really did not know God at first. He stayed in the protection of the tents instead of making something of himself. He knew of God only by name and never fully experienced Him as others had done. When he was on the way to Laban he slept and had a conversation with God in which God promised him a great nation to come from him. Jacob asked for God to protect and provide for his journey then he would follow Him all his days.
1. Sometimes a bargain with God will turn into a test of Faith.
Saying that you will follow God giving Him conditions does not always turn out the way people hope. Jacob was consistently tested and his ability to bargain, barter, and act somewhat treacherously to get free of the bonds. Was this a test of his resilience? Probably. God wants people who can accept and face challenges with God as the guide and protector. It took Jacob to have a wrestling match with the Angel of God (BTW this was Jesus) for him to understand all he was going through was because of bargaining with God.
2. Having Patience with God’s Plan is a good thing.
Face it, we all lose patience at one time or another. We need to remember that things happen in God’s timing and not ours. We cannot tell God when things will happen, God tells us.
3. Having God in Our Lives Creates a Loving Atmosphere that Overcomes Hate
For some this may be a hard pill to swallow but truly being in Christ and not just believing leads to a healthy loving relationship with our fellow man. This relationship with God gives us eloquence in speaking peace, encouragement, and correction as needed. This day and age is filled with many discouraged and lost people who could really use God’s Love from His perspective, not a human one. Our human emotions can get in the way of being in Christ when sharing Him, His Love, and His Tough Love. Having God as the center gives us the courage to stand firm in the midst of hungry lions.
4. Forgiveness is a two way street
The embrace of brothers we see in Jacob and Esau was not an easy one but it began the conversation which led to peace. The forgiveness was mutual as it should be today. When you wrong someone not only do we ask for forgiveness but the other party must be willing to forgive. The one forgiving has to search deeply and ensure their forgiveness is genuine. Finding forgiveness in their heart opens many doors. The one asking forgiveness must be genuine as well and be truthfully willing to never wrong the person or people in that way or any way again.

Jacob and Esau would live with certain tensions for the remainder of their days but for then there was peace.

Let us remember to not tempt God or bargain with Him for we may not like the resulting years of pain before the dawn of the morning. Let us also learn patience with God’s timing and accept all things with grace remembering that God is the center. Forgive and be forgiven; Love as God Loves us. Be blessed Brothers and Sisters.

 

Now Jacob had twelve sons and one (known) daughter. Many things occurred with that family but it our journey takes us next to the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh.

The Importance of Being Second P2

Ishmael and IsaacIshmael and Isaac

Abram had two sons from different women. Ishmael was the son of Sarai’s Egyptian handmaiden Hagar whom she gave to Abram in hopes that he has a physical heir to his properties. Isaac, the son of the promise was born to Sarai when she was very old. Now Ishmael means God Listens while Isaac means Laughter. Sarai thought the Lord was joking when He told her she would bare a son but (sorry) God got the last laugh in this case.
Sarai took it upon herself to let Abram have Hagar and give him a son and she was jealous of Hagar especially when Ishmael was born. Thing is, Ishmael was not the child of the promise and God knew that Sarai would give Hagar to Abram. God still used Ishmael and his descendant
Abram joyfully taught Ishmael all he needed to know and had him circumcised as the first born in God’s covenant with Abram. Sarai became jealous of Hagar which would carry on into the boys. Sarai (now Sarah) bore Isaac and he became the favored child.
The Book of Jasher tells us that when Isaac was five, Ishmael (then 18) attempted to kill Isaac with a bow and arrow. Ishmael was a wild youth who mocked Isaac every chance he had and would not follow Abraham’s direction so Hagar and Ishmael were banished. Abraham asked God for pity on them and He granted them safety. An angel came to Hagar and Ishmael ensuring they were looked after and he would father a great nation. Ishmael had two wives (not at the same time) and twelve sons, the Arab Nation also known as Ishmaelite’s. Later in his life Ishmael and before Abraham died, Ishmael became a penitent man. When he died he was buried in what would be called Mecca.
There are so many issues with timing and age here but should we really worry about semantics over meanings?
When Isaac reached the age to assist his father with the sacrifice, he went with Abraham to the mountain and was the physical object of God’s test of Abraham’s faith. Abraham from there understood that God would provide for him and his many children as long as they were faithful servants. The angel of the Lord told Abraham, ”By Myself have I sworn, says the Lord, that because you have done this thing and you did not withhold your son, your only one, that I will surely bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand that is on the seashore, and your descendants will inherit the cities of their enemies.“
So what is the importance of Isaac besides the second son of the father of many nations? Isaac is the Son of the Promise, honestly that is really the most important thing about him outside of his children. He was a faithful man who would later father twins who would once again separate nations. These two people would suffer contention and strife even today although the brothers found peace in their time.
We learn more about Abraham’s faith from this story than anything else. First we see how Abraham and Sarah could not believe that they would even be able to have children at their age especially since Sarah was well above child bearing years. They learn to listen to God and that He can make all things possible, even what we would consider impossible. Abraham never saw God, only angels that were His messengers and carried out God’s commands. His faith in the unseen made God known personally to Abraham. Ishmael would never have as close of a relationship with God as Isaac did. Maybe that is why there are so many issues.
This story tells us that we can have that personal relationship, in fact that is what God wants. We will later see how much more this point is brought out with Isaac’s son, Jacob.
PRAYER:
Father God, We desire a personal relationship with You. Thank You for giving us Jesus so we can have that relationship. Thank You also for the understanding of faith in the unseen but understood, Father. The lessons from the past are truly alive today because of that relationship You have built with us. Teach us, Oh Lord, so that we may share this relationship with others as we build deeper relationships with You ourselves. Guide us to those who You desire a deep personal relationship so we may tell them our story in order for them to discover theirs. Thank You for the gift of Your Son and His gift of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus Name AMEN

Importance of the Second Son P1

CAIN and ABELCAin and Abel

What is the true significance of these first two brothers? Christians understand it to be a story of jealousy which lead to bitterness and murder with eternal ramifications but there is more than meets the eye here. Cain, whose name means spear, was the first born and understood the land. Abel was the second son whose name means breathing spirit and understood life as a God given gift.
Abel was favored by God but He loved Cain just as much (even though he did not believe it). Abel was blessed being the more handsome while Cain looked as dirty as the land in which he toiled. This was the result of the gifts that God blessed them with. Cain was the farmer, Abel the shepherd. Cain’s offerings were from the fruit of his labors while Abel gave of the firstborn, unblemished male sheep. Prayers were heard the same but it seemed that Cain’s were not answered as quickly as Abel’s.
We all know where this is going…Jealousy, Bitterness, Rage, Misunderstanding God’s Love, these are things that were the catalyst to Cain ending Abel’s life. When elder hid from God, Abel’s blood (Spirit) cried out and Cain learned a valuable lesson. Cain would be tortured by his decision until the end of his days understanding that he was cursed and protected by God until the appointed time.
Adam and Eve then had Seth who was a faithful servant of God. He took the place of Abel and was given the blessing that was originally rightfully Cain’s.
What can we learn from this?
1. We see two types of worship through the brother’s, one out of duty the other out of devotion.
a. Cain worship was an obligation to giving first fruits of his labor in a vain attempt to please God with the “look what I have done for you” attitude. He must have learned this from his parents who were still scarred from the loss of the Paradise in Eden. They worshipped out of fearful respect knowing that disobedience would truly mean death.
b. Worshiping out of total devotion and love for God which was reflected in his sacrifices. Abel cared for the flock as if they were his own. He gave a life back to God to show a willingness to return blessings and give God the glory. Abel sought nothing because he understood he deserved nothing.
2. The faith of Cain was works centered and faith of Abel’s faith was justified by love. This is the beginning of the Sola Fida vs Works alone argument. We are justified by our faith, saved by His Blood which obligates us to live out our faith by attaining to be like Jesus. There is the fine line difference in believing in Jesus and Being in Jesus. Works are important as we find by Jesus’ explanation of the sheep and goats but the works of the sheep were not recognized, boasted nor accolades sought. The goats believed and did nothing to make their faith fruitful.
Equating this to today’s church: Attendance in church out of obligation is dangerous and not fulfilling while attendance out of brokenness is recognition that you are not alone, you are loved, and not deserving of forgiveness. The former is a goat who goes just because and the latter, a sheep who recognizes the desire to live a Christ-like life.

3. The third thing we get from this is that jealousy and bitterness are vainly dangerous characteristics that lead to heartache and pain.
Remaining in a state where you blame others for your lack of faith, love, and or a good life leads to spiritual darkness. Letting go of negative feelings releases the soul from darkness.

Cain, at an old age, died from a hunting accident by his own kin. God’s protection did not include from his own family. But Cain did not leave this world without leaving his mark. His descendants would never be satisfied, always searching for truth and forgiveness while wreaking havoc wherever they roamed while placing blame for their ways on others.
Abel’s importance is that he showed us a right way of worship. His devotion and trust in God was increased through his faith and understanding that God though invisible is ever present, all knowing, and all powerful.

Though Abel never received the blessing from his father, however, he blessed the world with his knowledge and understanding of God.

The Importance of Being Second

Children are God’s gift to His creation. Not only are children born for parents to care for and learn joy and true love from, they are the future generations who will help bring God’s Kingdom to completion here on earth. God gave us the Bible to learn how He wishes us to live and celebrate Him but there is more to this. Even though it has been said there is no instruction manual for being a parent, those who say that are incorrect. God teaches us in Scripture how to raise the child. Does He not say in Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”?
Throughout the Old Testament (and Jesus Parable in the New) there are stories that contain two sons. Some are twins and some are born within a short matter of years of each other. Why are the second born so important. What if I told you that many of the second born actually foreshadow the completion of God’s work through Christ? That was something I bet not too many people would think of.
Anyone who has heard an old theologian minister knows that names in Hebrew actually have more significant meaning than our names do today. Yes some people actually live up to their names while others sit back on the sidelines. The names of Cain and Abel are especially significant when it comes to their father and future descendant Jesus. But I do not want to give away too much right now.
In this study we will look at the sons of Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, and God just to name a few. As time moves forward we may find more than meets the eye looking into the children who would receive the blessings as the second sons.
So why study the uniqueness of the second born male child? Think of all the times we hear about the firstborn, first-fruits, first this and that all through Scripture. It is apparently good to be the first for many reasons but it can also be a great challenge.
Firstborns are the experimental child for parents who think they may want more. The parents are either overprotective and careful or they forget the child is even there sometimes. Some are spoiled while others are treated as hired servants. Second children (more specifically in the biblical times sons) are just as, if not more, important. The parents are either more strict or less stringent on the second born. They are sometimes more spoiled than the first (except in the case of Joseph and Benjamin). Second children seem to get the worst from the grandparents because they are expected to be just as good or better than the first. Basically, the second child is looked at as a blessing and a curse.
God made good on the second born for many of the key figures in biblical times. For some reason the second born was always used as an example for something even when it was not necessary to do so. Many brilliant life lessons are learned looking into the lives of the second child.
I myself am a second child (only son born to my parents) and I can say that it was an exciting ride growing up in a family where one parent was an avid church attendee and the other could not stand the hypocrisy. There were many moments that were tumultuous but great lessons were learned. I was the one given to God as servant but that is another story.

For the next few weeks we will look at lessons from the lives of the second sons. During this time we will learn how negative and positive emotions and values can affect the outcomes in our lives. We will discover how God uses those lessons for instruction and guidance leading us towards Him. Join me on this journey as we discover the Importance of Being Second.