Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter 3, Part One

So let us take the Great Barge, as it slowly, inexorably rolls along, to the end of history itself.  Something we will need to discuss before proceeding in the difference between Eternal Torah and written Torah.  Paul’s use of Law is sometimes confusing, so a deconstruction of what is being referred is prerequisite.  The difference is between source and destination.

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet, a Light to my path”  Thus David says of the Scriptures.  The imagery here is potent; as an official biographer of Yahweh, David has a deeper insight into the character of El.  Here, he expertly divides the two aspects of the Law.  First, he reveals the rubber on the road function, found in the written Torah.  This is the lamp function.

The lamp acts as a symbolic standard for the Mitzvah.  The ordinances formed the context of all aspects of a Hebrew’s life.  It was the mechanism of their existence.  Whatever occurred in the Holy Camp, the written Torah was sought a light on the matter.  In this way, it is the lamp.  Where it is held up, light bathes the holder, and illuminates his environs.

More importantly, though, is that the Light shows the path.  A path goes somewhere; it isn’t static.  A lamp can set on a table, and it is good.  But when you need to travel through the dark, it must move.  The Light of Eternal Torah shows the way forward.  It isn’t there to sit in one place; it is there to keep you moving, towards a destination.

Thus, the lamp serves as the icon of the local; the Light, the icon of the universal.  This is born out by what the Scripture reveals of itself.  Paul says ‘sin was in the world before the Law was given’.  This means the subject is not eternal.  It has a beginning-and end.  When everyone dwells in perfect love, there will no longer be a code of ordinances (against perfect love, there is no Law).  But that cannot refer to the Eternal Torah, the light of El-for that is forever a part of Him.  ! tim 6 says ‘ He dwells in light immortal’.

So, if one Law is temporal, and one is Eternal, are they the same thing? It is more accurate to say that Eternal Torah powers written Torah, as the latter reveals El’s disposition on sin.  Sin cannot be defined in sum toto as breaking the law, as Paul says sin preceded the Law of ordinances.  This Law divided mankind, whilst the Eternal Law is uniting us, on our voyage to the end of human history.

Now, it is true that this final period of the world will see the written Torah emerge, where the Holy Edicts will govern humanity for 1000 years.  But the existence of the Ordinances still accompany a division, between the Holy People, and the hordes of Gog and Magog.  When the last division is resolved by judgment, then the Law of ordinances will have no more use.  Yet, the Light of God goes on forever, even as this reality paradigm is destroyed 2 peter 3).

This subject requires a great deal more discussion to fully consummate.  Labyrinthine arguments exist on these matters, and I cannot do them justice with bullet points.  I am only revealing how I see the matter.  My goal was to define the elements.  This being done, I can now turn to Captain Moses, to show us a tour of the Great Barge.

Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter Two, Part Two

SO, what are the conveyances that the children of Abraham use?  There is the Law, the ordinances of El, that were the commandments of the holy camp of Israel.  These were to be observed without exception.  Those that came from the mountain at Sinai were to conduct their existence inside the regimen they proscribed.

This is also true of the Gospel.  The Regenerate are holy, separated people.  They must live under the regimen proscribed by the Messiah and His apostles.  The rules  are to be observed as fully as those from Sinai. In form, there is no real difference.  It would seem that they are not very different.

The truth is, they aren’t. El does’t demand that one group exert effort, and the other lives care free.  Both ways demand obedience, faith, and trust.  Both rewrite the course of your life.  In truth, they become your life. There is no difference in this.

Imagine, then, our  two ships: the Great Barge, which sails the Great River.  Ponderous and purposeful, like the description of the Sphinx in Yeat’s superb Second Coming, the Euphrates rolls along, throughout out history,winding its’ way to the end.  This ship picked up the tribe of Hebrews-and those who would become ‘as native born’-as it made its way onward.  Then, there is the kalak, the smaller vessel.  Sleek, fast, it roams the faster waters of the Tigris, picking up anyone who will reach up a hand.

The kalaks can make many trips.  You collapse them, and take them back up river.  The great barge makes only one.  Thus, the motif of the great barge is that of we are history.  Mankind is only bit player in the story of the Hebrew.  This is the tribe that brought forth the Messiah, and the Sacred Torah, which they carried to mankind (romans 3:2).  The Gospel is themed whosoever will.  It does not camp in one region; rather, it was sent out to the whole of the Earth.

But it is all Yahweh’s will.  Why the discrepancies? Torah Observant followers believe that Torah is for all mankind.  It is called ‘the light on the path’. This seems a legitimate assertion.  Why would the rules system change, if they uphold what El says is good?  The answer is the basis of the Sinai covenant: circumcision.

Look at Romans 4.  Paul comes into this asking, from 3, ‘What advantage, then is there for the Jew? Of what benefit is the circumcision?’ Here, Paul is directly tying the word Jew (read Hebrew) to circumcision.  They are one and the same.  While many Ger or Gentiles joined into Israel, they were considered ‘as native born’.  There was no place for a Hittite, Jebusite, Gibeonite, etc.  The map of Israel is marked by which tribe is your home.  There is no inheritance, no portion, for anyone who does not belong to these tribes.

So, while any who came to the Holy Camp could convert, it was, in effect, a racial conversion.  They could not retain their previous identities.  To reside in Israel, to have a portion, you had to be of the tribe.  And that was accomplished by the sign of the covenant of Sinai, the circumcision.  This sign, in fact, identifies the possessor as a Hebrew, just as Paul is saying.

Consider the past tense language in Romans 3.”They were entrusted with Oracles (Torah)”.  Look at this. One, he says ‘they’, referring to the Hebrews.  Was Paul not a Hebrew?  Why are they ‘they’?  Look at the tense. They were entrusted. Why not now? Yet, at the end of 3, he writes

 Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law.

Thus, he begins 4 with a connection to the circumcision.  Gen 15:6 declares Abram was credited with righteousness.  Paul never says the Law is bad-not once.  He declare sit is righteous (Romans 7:12).  Yet, after this, he drops a bomb.  He asks if Abraham received the covenant while circumcised or not?  It was while uncircumcised.  Now, the father of faith appears to lack the one thing that is sine qua non to the Hebrew identity.  Here is the whole passage:

Is this blessing then on d]the circumcised, or on e]the uncircumcised also? For we say, “Faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” 10 How then was it credited? While he was f]circumcised, or g]uncircumcised? Not while h]circumcised, but while i]uncircumcised; 11 and he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which j]he had while uncircumcised, so that he might be the father of all who believe without being circumcised, that righteousness might be credited to them, 12 and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also follow in the steps of the faith of our father Abraham which k]he had while uncircumcised.

There it is , in black and white.  He received the blessing while uncircumcised, so that those who were not could call him father.  I know it will rankle many ( a speciality of mine), but this is the fact: the circumcision covenant was for the Holy People.  The light of Torah, while still good, only shone on those who could make it to Israel.  And you could only live there by becoming a Hebrew.  Thus, the nations, the goyim, the Gentiles were locked out.  Then Jesus tore the temple veil, and the Tigris River was born.

To continue this deconstruction. I will identify the characteristics of the vehicles of faith. First I will examine the format of the circumcision, followed by the format of the Gospel, the uncircumcised river, over which Paul was appointed Apostle.  Let us then examine the barge, whose skipper was Moses.

 

Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter Two, Part One

Now, down to the meat of the matters.  The opening framework here will be to show the symbology of the pattern which I have assigned to Abraham.  In the beginning, he was Abram, of Mesopotamia.  Thus, from his start, he was a man of two rivers.  The Tigris and Euphrates were the most important features of his homeland.  They made possible the rise of the Sumerians, the forebears of Assyria, Akkad, and Babylon.  They gave fertile soil to a hostile region, and commercial waterways that are still used today.

Time has not erased the power of these rivers.  You can still see the various barges, large and small, sailing along them, as in times past.  The Kalak, a raft made of strong reed and goat skins, can still be seen, although the British rail system greatly reduced water traffic in the region.  Barges, flat bottom boats, were commonplace until the river was dammed in the 20th century.  Barges were usually large vessels, designed to move cargo on the Euphrates slow speed, while the Tigris required curved hulls to navigate safely.

From a land of two rivers came Abram, to a Promised Land, which was marked off by-two rivers.  Genesis 15:18 describes it:

“To your t]descendants I have given this land,
From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates

Thus, he kept the river of his origin, and added another.  This is consistent with the character of El: he gives generously, multiplying liberally, desiring always to bless.  Thus, we can see a window here, of an adding on.  Something here must be addressed, to clarify any ambiguity.

While the Tigris is a branch of the Euphrates, with different vessels, on a different route, it is still a river.  That means that, morphologically, it must share more attributes than it differentiates. This is to assert, bluntly, that the two rivers do not represent two gods or two religions.  The Tigris is a product of the Euphrates; as such, it is a descendant, with the same character.  What differs are not the rivers so much as the vessels upon them, and the routes those take to reach the unification in the end.

Thus, the Tigris route does not vary ethically from the Euphrates.  Yahweh does not change what is right and wrong.  The sailing conditions, however, are bifurcated for a while.  This corresponds well to the fact that Grace is only a limited time offer.  The time will come when the great hall is closed, and no more guests or virgins will get in.  Fortunately. this only occurs when mankind has gone reprobate, and the times of the Gentiles are complete.

So, let us look at the covenant given to Abram.  First, it changes his name.  This is important in the Bible.  This change, to Abraham, magnifies his character, from strong one, to very strong one.  This also indicates an increase in his possessions, and his progeny. He will increase in blessings, and he will have more of what he had before.  Thus, we see multiplication already begin in the name being elevated.

So, already, he is not the man he was before.  He has two names, and expanded blessings-the foremost of which is that he will have a son.  Now, in Gen 15, it is written: “Abram believed, and it was credited to him as righteousness.’  Here is a conundrum.  What exactly did Abram do?  Yah told him He would do these things.  Is that, then, belief?  The definition of faith ,from Hebrews, “the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Here I must inquire: where is the faith in this?  El appears to Abram, and tells him He will perform some verbs.  Anyone in the universe can believe that.  Yet, the Scripture affirms that Abram believed.  How is this anywhere as strong a faith as the offering of Isaac?  They aren’t even close.  That is why I thought of Gen 15/17 as one covenant, the circumcision/flesh covenant, and Gen 22 as the covenant of the Gospel.

The problem here was a false choice dilemma.  It isn’t an either or affair.  In 15, the faith is trust and obedience, which is also required in the Gospel.  The Torah requires the evidence of things not seen.  If it were not so, would Israel have turned away, time and time again?  Even with the Law given, as by Elohim, they still ran after false gods and fallen men.

So, why then the two rivers? It seems that each has common elements.  Is this division illusory?  Let us examine the vehicles of faith that the covenant of Abraham produced: the Law and the Gospel.  Here we will see the difference.

Abraham, River of Faith: Chapter One, Part One

Abram, as all of us, had a story from which he arose.  Unlike most of us, his came from a band of survivors from a world destroyed for iniquity, sailing on a barge to a new beginning.  His ancestor, Noah, was also a man of faith, also approved of by El.  Like Abram, Noah would be given a covenant by Yahweh, that would apply to his sons, for as long  as this world persists.  I must pause here, to explain something you will almost certainly reject, and that is the account of Noah.

I won’t bury you under volumes of work here; that would be a diversion.  Very simply stated, the events listed in Genesis concerning Noah did not occur on this planet.  You will likely recoil from this idea, but we are, by the Word of Yahweh, under commandment to be honest.  The ninth commandment compels right witness; Jesus does as well (let your yes be yes).  So, on either river you take, your steward demands you accept the truth.

Here are truths observable to mankind today.

1)  the human race did not emerge from 8 people

2) the human race did not reset 5000 years ago

3) life has not been wiped clean here (almost, but not 100%)

4) structures and artifacts exist that predate the Ussher numbers

5)  The Flood did not cover our mountains.  Everest stands at almost 30000 ft.  If the waters covered it, that adds 908 atmospheres of pressure.  This results in the loss of all topsoil, converting the planet to a ball of mud, killing most plant life as well.

There is much more, but that is another story.  I mention it only to prevent confusion if I use phrases like ‘Noah’s world’, etc.  If you disagree, so be it; it isn’t necessary for you agree with me to see what I am presenting about Abraham.  Noah was the last righteous man of his world; he was also the forbear of the Messiah.  His trip is symbolic of the journey of faith in all cases.

Noah left all he knew behind, to venture forward to a new life.  He sailed onward, keeping his eyes on the horizon, searching for that land promised to him.  When he arrived here, he founded three lines of people, one of whom would be the Hebrew race, from which would arise Abram (I know, Hebrew comes from Eber, but that is how we refer to the genetic group commonly called Jews).  He was also given a covenant, a sacred calling, and a promise of hope.

Noah’s covenant was for he, and his descendants, with a promise to all life not to drown it again.  He went out in faith, a man of righteousness, a man approved, and made the line that would give us Abram.  In that sense, Noah is the father of all who sail the river of faith, which ever branch they traverse.  Abram followed this pattern.  Going out from Ur, he made for a land promised to him, a place where he would have descendants from his body-and some who were not.

Noah serves as the symbol of God seeing us through the storm-contrary to the Ninja rapture advanced by Darbyites.  Noah obeyed and believed, as his descendant would do.  But he never made a sacrifice like his only son; and that is why he only sailed on one water.  His progeny, Abram, would supercede him.  Abram would also at in absolute, Kirkegaardian trust that his friend, El Shaddai, would not turn against him.  And thus, from the mountain of hope beyond reason, a new river was made.  Carved from Abraham, it would bend away from the Great River, for a little while.  Thus Abraham would become the father of two rivers: one from his body, a covenant of a land, a people, a tribe, and one from his faith, which would usher in everyone else.

Abraham, the river of faith: Seeing the Euphrates and Tigris as the Torah and the Gospel

Prologue: how it came to be

Greetings to all.  This blog series will explore an epiphany I received last Friday, during our Holy Convocation on Skype.  I want to thank all our members, who make the gathering a true joy for me.  I give special thank here for our brother Jason; it was his presentation on the covenant of Abraham that laid the groundwork for the awakening; it was also he that spoke the words that caused me to here the striking of the Truth.  This is not to elevate one man over another: it is simply right to acknowledge from whence the radix of the understanding emerged.

One of the most vexing elements of my faith walk has been the apparent dichotomy between the Sinai covenant of old, and the Gospel, the new covenant of Calvary.  I find myself a product of the latter, who seeks instruction from the tutor, which is the former.  Yet, the hobgoblin remains: why does there seem to be such a gulf between them?  This struggle-Law vs Grace-has driven much of Western literature.  The legendary Hugo explored this theme masterfully in his brilliant epic, Les Miserables.

In our Sabbath gatherings, we have had many discussions on this divide.  I am not in the full Torah Observance movement; I look to it as a guide, a teacher.  Paul refers to this covenant as that of Hagar, and the Gospel as Sarah.  But many believe that it one covenant, building piece by piece over time.  We have had vigorous struggles on this theme, which led to the last meeting.  I was having a hard time dealing with the Abramic covenants; Genesis 15 is the covenant of flesh, and Genesis 22 the covenant of faith.  I saw these as the roots of the Torah and Gospel, two separate events.

Jason presented a paper to address this conflict.  He asserted that it was one covenant, whilst I held to 15/17 and 22 being the divide Paul discusses in Galatians.  I could not believe that Abraham was not multiplied more in 22 than in 15.  Jason asserted that the number in 15 and 22 were the same seed promised, that the sum was given in 15 and 22.  In the midst of the debate, Jason made the prophetic (the minor usage, a right witness) statement that made it all clear.  He said ” They may look different, but they all meet in the end”.  And so it was. In that moment, the sacred chord was struck, and I heard it.  We were both right.

Jason was moreso than I; he correctly assessed that 15/17 and 22 were not different covenants at all. I held that Romans 4 clearly came from Gen 22; but then, it also hearkened to Gen 15.  Yet Paul refers to Sinai and the Gospel as distinct from each other.  It was maddening.  Why is it that this happens so often in the Bible?  Why is there conflict in  a divine revelation?  The answer is, there isn’t.

Jason said it perfectly: the seed in 15 and 22 are one number, because they all meet in the end.  When those words fell, I was immediately taken to Revelation 12:17: whose children keep the commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.  Here, all of Abraham’s children, through Torah and Gospel, meet in the end.  Just as the Tigris and Euphrates do, at the Persian gulf, before heading into the sea.

The Euphrates is the Great River.  It is the mightiest of the ancient world, and served as the basis of the Mesopotamian civilization.  But Mesopotamia was a named given the fertile land by the Greeks; it means ‘the land between two rivers’.  That second river is the Tigris; but is it really a second at all? Geograpically, it does not directly stem from the Euphrates; but the water table on which it rests, including Lake Hazar ( its’ source) is saturated by the Euphrates.  But for a small turn of fate, a minor channel forming would have made it so.

I am treating the Tigris, therefore, as having the Great River as the tributary for the Tigris; this isn’t a lesson in geology or water tables.  It is meant to show a spiritual principle: of how one river, Abraham, carved out a fork that became a different stream  for a while, until rejoining the Great River once again.  Thus, in Abraham, we find both Torah and Gospel, which are not opposed, but are two different currents, rolling towards the place where they will reunite.

This groundwork having been laid, I will take us back to the first Great Barge that traveled waters of faith, that being Noah and the Ark.