Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Six – December 6th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day 6 – December 6th

Thank you for reading our sixth installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

In the last few days we have looked at the genealogy of the Messiah and we have found that Jesus Christ meets the criteria having being a descendent of both Abraham and Isaac, now we look at the prophetic claim that he will be of the descendent line of Jacob. We find this in the book of Numbers in chapter twenty four.

Numbers 24:17 (ESV) I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; it shall crush the forehead of Moab and break down all the sons of Sheth.

We know this messiah as Jesus of Nazareth, who is called the Christ. The person speaking is Balaam and we read that he could “see him, but not now”. He knew that he was coming but not in a time that he could see. Jesus is called the following:

1) A Star
2) A Scepter

Now a star is bright, it illuminates the darkness; we learn this in the creation account. A star is a glorious light, sent from afar to give light and direction where otherwise it would be dark and desolate. What a picture of a coming messiah!

The scepter is the stick with a ball that you see in places like Royal palaces, such as Buckingham Palace in England, castles where the royal ascent is present, such as Edinburgh Castle in Scotland where the Scottish Crown Jewels are present. (Can you tell I am British?)

The last place you will see a scepter is the place where decisions are made. In the British House of Parliament, between the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition there is a scepter, a sign that what they are discussing in this chamber has the blessing of the current monarch of the land.

So you see, the scepter is a symbol of the messiah’s majesty, of his regal authority. (Much like it is in the UK, the Queen will not sit in every debate, she will merely open and close the parliament and her aides will leave the scepter as a symbol of her patronage of the power held within) It gives us a picture of the ruling Messiah that is Jesus Christ.

This verse goes on to say that he would go on to defeat all of the territories beyond Israel. This will happen in the book of Revelation. In the messiah’s first coming he was the suffering sacrifice, he will return to signal the end of the world. This part of the prophesy is still to come.

Who was Jacob?

In the book of Genesis we read about Jacob and his brother Esau, let’s look at Genesis chapter twenty five.

Genesis 25:19 (ESV) These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham fathered Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. 21 And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. 23 And the LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.” 24 When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. 27 When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. 28 Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. 29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom. ) 31 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” 32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

I love the story of Jacob because it is both glorious and tragic at the same time. It is glorious because God chose him to continue the line even although he was not the first born (as was the custom at that time) and verse 23 advises that “the older shall serve the younger”. But all too soon it turns tragic.

I am encouraged though by the tragic nature as Rebekah and Jacob did not learn from Abraham and Sarah trying to “help God along”. It seems that there is a faith fault in this DNA strand. This is encouraging to me as I am a mess up a lot. My DNA strand is faulty through sin! I suffer from not trusting God enough. As good as I may read on here, I will be honest and say I don’t get it right all the time. Jacob was not chosen because he was perfect, (or Esau because he was worse than his brother) Paul confirms this in the letter to the Roman church in chapter nine:

Romans 9:10 (ESV) And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”

So between verses 30-34, Esau sells all that he has and all that he is going to have for a bowl of stew and some bread. (My wife makes awesome soup but i have never done that!) But the sin does not end there. Let’s look at what happens when Isaac dies:

Genesis 27:1 (ESV) When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, 4 and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.” 5 Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the LORD before I die.’ 8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. 9 Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. 10 And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” 11 But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. 12 Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing.” 13 His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me.” 14 So he went and took them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared delicious food, such as his father loved. 15 Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her older son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. 16 And the skins of the young goats she put on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17 And she put the delicious food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. 18 So he went in to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” 19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.” 20 But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the LORD your God granted me success.” 21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 22 So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands. So he blessed him. 24 He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.” 25 Then he said, “Bring it near to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said, “See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed! 28 May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine. 29 Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!” 30 As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31 He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.” 32 His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” 33 Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” 34 As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” 35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.” 36 Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” 37 Isaac answered and said to Esau, “Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?” 38 Esau said to his father, “Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept. 39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: “Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be, and away from the dew of heaven on high. 40 By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow restless you shall break his yoke from your neck.” 41 Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” 42 But the words of Esau her older son were told to Rebekah. So she sent and called Jacob her younger son and said to him, “Behold, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you. 43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice. Arise, flee to Laban my brother in Haran 44 and stay with him a while, until your brother’s fury turns away— 45 until your brother’s anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him. Then I will send and bring you from there. Why should I be bereft of you both in one day?” 46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I loathe my life because of the Hittite women.  If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women like these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?”

The nuts and the bolts of this is that Jacob being the flawed man that he is he decided to con his father into believing that he was his brother in order to steal his brothers blessing. I have no idea whether the father was ever aware that Esau had sold his birthright or not, but he was certainly expecting Esau to come in and be blessed.

When we deceive, often times we have to add deceit on top of deceit in order to cover up the original deceit. How much easier would it have been had Jacob just allowed God to fulfil his promise to him? The real encouragement to us all is that regardless how we mess up, we can still be used by God. Jacob was eventually called Israel and the nation of the same name came through him. They were literally the children of Israel.

So where do we find this genealogy in the New Testament?

We see this in the beginning of the book of Matthew chapter one.

Matthew 1:1 (ESV) The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. 2 Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, 3 and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,

Jesus qualifies through the genealogy of his literal mother Mary as well as his legal guardian Joseph. How very God that he made sure there was no doubt that Jesus was indeed his boy. Again God is the God of keeping his promises, regardless how much we mess up! That to me is the encouragement in these verses.

I haven’t conned my brother out of money, I haven’t stolen the family fortune, but I have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 6:23) but I am forgiven for what I have done and you can be too. The answer is Jesus and co-incidentally he is also the reason for these articles and also the reason for this Christmas season.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
TGBTG
TTE

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Praying for Scotland on “Independence Day”

Praying for Scotland on “Independence Day”

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The timing of this article is deliberate as to publish as the polls open on “Independence Day”. Please feel free to comment below this article regardless of your political leanings.

This is a hard article for me to write and remain somewhat impartial so unlike the British mainstream media I am going to declare my allegiances up front and will advise that had I been in Scotland and registered to vote I would have been voting for the partition of the United Kingdom. Those of you who know me know that I am in favour of the pro-Independence stance of the Scottish National Party and have also campaigned for this party in elections past when I lived in Scotland.

The reason it is hard is to remainobjective whilst giving a commentary and an appeal to the people of Scotland. My appeal is not, as one would expect for you all to vote “yes” but simply to vote. The bible states that your yes should be yes and your no should be no and I tend to agree.

Whether you choose to stay with the Union or whether you choose that Scotland would be better as an independent nation is truly a decision for you, your conscience and the arguments that have been presented to you, in many cases in a biased format by those we expected better of. Should the Yes side prevail it would be in the face of the most blatant propaganda machine that has ever been Government endorsed since the days of Goering and German National Socialism. The people of Scotland have been denied the facts, had unbalanced coverage, had programs edited to remove keynote Yes speakers, had applause muted by yes supporters in debates and manipulated coverage of the referendum to tell a story that was not balanced.

If you were to look at the evidence at the author of this article I am a prime candidate to vote no. I am a former serviceman of the Royal Engineers; my maternal grandfather figure was a staunch Labour supporter, Union spokesperson for the National Union of Railwaymen and political activist in the days of Neil Kinnock. My own father was a Union rep and I lived in a staunch Labour area for most of my life. So why am I supporting Yes?

I began to look into Scottish independence after helping Labour (I know, I know) get elected in 1997, under the Tony Blair “things can only get better campaign” as I was attracted by the promise of Scottish Devolution and the possibility of a Parliament in Edinburgh for the first time since 1707. Soon I realized how “London-centric” New Labour were and I decided not to renew my party membership in 1999.

I still classified myself as a “Labour voter” even although I was not pounding the streets in support of the campaign. It was not until 2002 that I properly looked into the SNP and their policies. I found their policies regarding Scottish self-determination were in line with where I wanted to see my country headed and I joined the SNP. I canvassed/leafleted and campaigned for the Lloyd Quinlan campaign in Motherwell when he stood against Lord Jack McConnell for the MSP seat.

I fell out of love with politics and held no party affiliation and I didn’t actually vote again until 2007 when I lived in the Glasgow Hillhead constituency. I did not campaign but voted SNP. Beyond my wildest dreams the SNP won power in the Hollyrood parliament.

Follow this up with an overall majority in 2011 and we were firmly on the journey we are on now, with probably the most astute First Minister that Scotland has ever seen, holding court against the most inept leader of Scottish Labour I have ever seen and an astute smart Tory leader with no back up in Scotland due to the way her party is remembered in the eighties and current policies by David Cameron leaves her and the Liberal Democrats with very little friends up here. He (Salmond) really has very little opposition.

Now I am a Yes voter as a guy who supported devolution, supported the new parliament, supported the Scottish Government in both Red and yellow formats and know that the Scots ARE genetically programmed to make political decisions. (Unlike what Mrs. Lamont says)

Personally and from my point of view, independence makes sense, both financially and from a decision making standpoint. I believe that decisions made in Edinburgh will have a greater opportunity to directly benefit Scottish voters than a remote parliament who is only concerned with the South West of England.

I also believe that it would help the “No true Scotsman” image that my countrymen have, where Scotland invented all the finer things in life and England is blamed for all of Scotland’s ills. The “Anti-English” chip on the shoulder that is perceived to be the case would slowly but surely cease to exist as Scotland would come of age in its own right. (For a fuller explanation of what I am meaning please see my blog “The Jacobite experiment“)

Should separation happen, I have no problem in wishing our neighbours to the south a “fare ye well” and a “fond farewell” as a joint entity. I have many cross border friends that would suddenly be in a “different country” but I doubt that it would change as far as citizenship goes. I have no “Anti-English chip on the shoulder” I just believe that we as a country can run our own affairs more beneficial to the people within our borders.

Should separation not happen, my countrymen would have the distinction of being the first country to turn down independence when it was able to be selected of one’s free will. (With no shots fired) Imagine if our cousins in Ireland in 1922 and America in 1776 could say likewise? Look at how these two countries have grown since separation from the UK. In the words of the Bard “Rabbie” Burns in the case of a No vote going through “Forward tho I canna see, I guess and fear”.

I am also praying for a resurgence in Christianity in Scotland regardless of the vote. My country has a fine tradition of following Christ and I pray for fervent revival in my land and have my land healed of its troubles. As much as I would love an independent Scotland free to run its own affairs, I would love it more to have a Scotland that was on fire for Jesus Christ living in a society where the love of Christ came down, where we love and serve one another, preferring the other before ourselves. Imagine that land? Rich in oil and God’s blessings.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing, as usual please share, comment or like below
TGBTG
TTE

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The Jacobite experiment

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DISCLAIMER:- the views expressed are the views of the author alone, TTE does not normally comment on political issues but this is an important issue for the author. We will return to Bible studies in the next article.

The Jacobite experiment

John 1:45 (ESV) Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

As most of you who know me personally will know, I am a strong advocate politically of Scottish independence and the upcoming vote in September on whether Scotland should be an independent nation and secede from the Act of Union of 1707.

That being said, should a yes vote actually happen, in my view as Scots we have to lose the “English chip on the shoulder” as a good relationship with our neighbours to the south has to happen.

Just to see how plausible that was, I did a little experiment on my Facebook wall last night. I am a passionate fan of football (soccer for the US readership) and I love seeing my club team (Dundee United) and my national team (Scotland) win every game they play.

As most of you will be aware, the World Cup is happening in Brazil at present and Scotland have been unable to qualify. Our neighbours to the south England have, but in many cases the Scots will usually cheer on ABE (Anyone but England)

So last night I did what I call “The Jacobite experiment” over the piece I have stated that as I live in the US now I would like to see them do well and that is true. I hope the USMNT get as far as they can in the tournament, however everyone assumes that I as a Scottish nationalist, will actively be cheering against England.

I actually don’t see that viewpoint, I don’t hate our neighbours in the south, we share many traits and joint history since this “marriage of convenience” began. We have fought under the same Union flag and share broadcast, newsprint, currency and telephone exchanges with them. I just believe that rather than being a 9% minority where the vote does not count and having policies foisted upon us that hinder the growth of my country, it is time to go our separate ways. Nothing personal, it is just for the good of the country.

Back to the experiment, I placed a flag of Saint George (the traditional flag of England) on my Instagram wishing England well and a Facebook post urging England to beat the Italians.

Unsurprisingly I got a few queries, but the sad part of the experiment was not on my posts, but on the posts of others gloating over a 2-1 victory for the Italians.

My hope for my nation is that we can be grown up enough to want to see our neighbours do well, that way we can get past the “No true Scot” mentality that some of us have where we blame everything on the English. We may have to actually man up and look at some of “plooks we see in the mirror”.

I am not against “banter” but these posts have a more sinister feel, the actually could be described as hatred.

This article will not be popular and I am not all that fussed if it is or isn’t! We have to get past the idea that a vote for Yes is some “get it up the English” this is a one way street with no U turns.

Think of the nations who have declared independence from the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Canada, Australia, India, New Zealand, think if all the countries that at one time had a Union flag in the top left hand corner of their flag, Britannia no longer “rules the waves” and the Empire is over! Of these countries NONE are begging to be ruled again from London.

Why did I choose the verse above? Well replace the word Nazareth with “England”, “London”, “Liverpool”, “Manchester”, “Birmingham”, “Newcastle”, wherever and you may see what I am driving at.

Like I say, I am not anti-English or even anti-European, but what I do want is for the buck to stop in Edinburgh rather than London for the constitutional decisions that affect the people of Scotland.

The Yes campaign have had it hard, they have the mainstream media being their press campaigners, the message in many cases are not going through and quite a few headlines are twisted to a pro-Union viewpoint, in some cases, headlines are created to give a view that is not present in the article.

I love my country, there are times where the Union served Scotland well in the beginning, but in more recent times it has not been beneficial to Scotland. It is time for a change, that can be achieved in a vote in September for the Yes campaign.

I don’t get involved with US politics mainly because I can’t vote for a president!

God bless and I hope this was a good read for you and please comment below should you wish too
TGBTG
TTE