Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
Two presentations are featured this month by Dr. Ernest L. Martin. The first is an article titled “Did Abraham Observe the Sabbath?” from an article originally published in 1975. The second is a presentation of “The Priorities of God” from a 1981 taped lecture by Dr. Martin. Both articles deal with different aspects of God’s sovereignty over His creation and over His laws.
“Did Abraham Observe the Sabbath?” — ever? The quick answer is no. Dr. Martin’s article presents the clear, concise evidence that will surprise you with information you probably knew, but perhaps have not considered before as applying to pre-Mosaic times.
The second article, “The Priorities of God,” through numerous examples in Scripture, shows how God Himself disregards whenever He wishes, the laws, rules, and traditions that He has set up for mankind. One of the major laws that God frequently disregards is the law of the firstborn. God does not disregard this law with reference to His firstborn son:
“Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
And he is the head of the body, the church [ekklesia]: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”
Jesus emptied Himself (Philippians 2:6–8), and God the Father “brings in the firstbegotten [firstborn] into the world” (Hebrews 1:6).
Jesus was also the firstborn of Joseph and Mary: “And she brought forth her firstborn son” (Luke 2:7):
“And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord [as the firstborn]; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord) …”
“[Joseph and Mary obeyed and] brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law.”
Luke 2:22–23, 27
What was meant by “the custom of the law”? This custom was a process to fulfill what was required under the law. Such customs were determined by the Sanhedrin (a group composed of Jewish elders knowledgeable in the laws of God) to create procedures that best fulfilled the requirements of the Law of Moses.
Jesus Christ was also a firstborn by virtue of His resurrection:
“For whom he [God] did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he [the Son] might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Through His resurrection, and because we are “in Christ,” we are also firstborn of God with Him. The ekklesia is an assembly of firstborn individuals:
“But you are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church [ekklesia] of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.”
“… Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten [firstborn] of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth.”
Even though we have this high status of being God’s firstborn and God’s people, we nevertheless remain strangers and pilgrims on the earth (Hebrews 11:12), just like the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews chapter 11, looking for a homeland and a city, just as were the readers of Hebrews 11:14–16, 13:14. 1
This situation is similar to that of the people of Israel and Judah among the nations. Indeed, God’s laws (which Christ fulfilled, therefore we are not obliged to do so) caused Israel, His chosen nation, to be separated and rejected from the rest of mankind (Jeremiah 49:15; Obadiah 1:2). Israel’s inability to obey God’s laws (a burden which Israel could not bear, Acts 15:10) caused Gentiles to blaspheme, spurn, and profane God’s name:
“You that make your boast of the law, through breaking the law you dishonor God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you [referencing Isaiah 52:5 and Ezekiel 36:20–23].”
All of God’s laws were fulfilled in, by, and through Christ. He is God’s firstborn and so are we — in and through Him.
This is your second and final reminder. If you require a receipt for your records of your deductible contributions to ASK for 2009, you must request that receipt. Some of you have already done so. You shall receive them shortly after 2010 begins. ASK does not automatically send these receipts unless you ask us to do so. We are pleased to provide them, of course, but it is your responsibility to make the request. We cannot know your wishes unless you tell us. As I wrote last month, if you do not ask, you will not receive.
The first piece of literature that many people order from ASK is Dr. Martin’s book The Tithing Dilemma. This book has provided tens of thousands of people with powerful biblical teaching and freed them from oppressive false teaching about tithing. Few people have ever thanked us for the material. Even fewer have contributed to ASK in recognition and thanks for saving them from an unbiblical financial burden put upon them by erring biblical teachers (most of whom know or should know better). I wonder if, once those readers learned the truth, they became bitter against all spiritual teaching. I hope not. Bitterness is an undesirable root to have within you (Hebrews 12:5).
You, our ASK contributors, are gracious and very thankful to us for the work we do in continuing the research of Dr. Martin, along with a few writings of my own. You are surely thankful to God for the truths you have learned through His word (helped by ASK). We, in turn, are thankful to God for you. Finally, we are thankful to each of you and all of you who undertake to support ASK so that your learning and our teaching can continue and even grow — slowly, clearly, patiently, using only proven methods of teaching and explaining the truths of God through Scripture. Everyone is blessed when heartfelt acknowledgements and thanks are sincerely given. Thank you for your love and support.
David W. Sielaff
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