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All Scripture is Useful For…

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalms 19:13-14)

I love passages like this, because, even though they’re in the Old Testament, they teach something from the New Testament. For example, in the first verse David is crying out to the Lord, and asking that God would keep him from being dominated by sin. Essentially, David does ask God to keep him from sin, but he specifically asks that God would keep him from being dominated by sin. David knows that he’ll sin, but he’s asking that God would keep sin from dominating his life. This a concept (i.e., that even as Christians we will still sometimes fall to sin, but that God can and will keep it from dominating our lives) that is taught in the New Testament as well… In fact, we can see it in various different passages, for example:

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Likewise, in the second verse David is asking God to let his words and meditation be acceptable before God. Now, this particular bit is actually teaching more through contrast with the New Testament then through comparison… By that, I mean that in the New Testament we see that, if we are Christians, our words and what we meditate on are (or at least should be… Naturally, as mentioned earlier, we will stumble) acceptable to God.

In conclusion though: We can see New Testament truths and events all throughout the Old Testament… In small things, such as the two bits of teaching that were mentioned, and in big things. The ‘biggest’ thing of all, that we see constantly being foreshadowed all throughout the Old Testament, is the Gospel. We see it foreshadowed  in Abraham, when he is told to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. We see it foreshadowed also with Joseph, who, to keep the people from starving, was betrayed into the hands of evil men, only to then be exalted to the right hand of Pharaoh… In short, almost every passage in the Old Testament points forward, or elaborates upon, something in the New Testament… The two testaments aren’t meant to be read separately, but rather to explain various things in one Testament or the other.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2013 in Theology

 

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The Old Testament: Is it Actually ‘Useful’?

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

All Scripture, Old and New Testaments, are useful in teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness… However, there are some books of the Bible, such as Numbers, Lamentations, and Leviticus, which, when we look at them, don’t appear to be exactly “helpful” in any of these areas. The book of Numbers can seem like nothing more than a bunch of useless numbers and history. The book of Lamentations can appear to be nothing more than a man lamenting. The book of Leviticus can seem like nothing more than rules and regulations which are no longer helpful to us.

They are much more than that though: Numbers is an account of how God sustained His people. Lamentations shows us that, even for a believer in God, things do get tough at times (we have to look at the New Testament in order to see that, even when things get tough, God always either helps us endure or provides a way out). As for Leviticus, while the rules within it are no longer applicable to those who have been saved through the blood of Christ, it can still aid us in showing us exactly what Jesus went through for us on the cross. For example, burnt offerings were consumed completely in fire. Likewise Jesus, the final burn offering, was consumed completely in God’s wrath for us on the cross.

The Old Testament is more than a collection of stories. It can be, when we look at it in light of what Jesus has done for us (i.e., in light of the New Testament), can be an encouraging and helpful aid in our walk with the Lord. We just have to look at Job in order to see that whatever trouble we’re going through now is meant to build us in the Lord. We can look to Noah’s ark, and see that God saves His people through the wood. 1 Kings 19:18 tells us that, even when it seems like no one around us believes in Christ, there are those that do.

In conclusion: The Bible doesn’t lie. When Paul says that all Scriptures are useful for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness, he truly does mean all Scriptures, both from the New and Old Testaments.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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A Misconceived Notion

Hello again!

This is what God gave today in His word:

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:16-21)

Now, we see Jesus apparently has quite a crowd; after all, this is the person which there is so much controversy over in Jerusalem, people are no doubt interested in what He has to say. And yet, what does He say? Does He give a long and delicate speech on prayer? Does He talk on Repentance? Forgiveness? None of the above. Rather, He simply states that some obscure passage in Isaiah is prophesying about Him. But, why? Why not talk about very important topics, but instead, with no explanation at all, say that some passage in Isaiah refers to Him?

Well, apparently Jesus thought that the crowded would benefit from His telling them that He was fulfilling a prophecy, was what the crowd needed. They had the same problem that several Christians have today: we, and they, tend to look at the Old Testament wrongly. We tend to look at it as lists of rules, and names, and wars, among other things. But it’s really so much more than that.

Jesus was correcting a misconception among all Jews; that we should only look at the Old Testament only in the light of itself, and not as a preparation for the coming of the Messiah.–We tend to have this same problem ourself. We don’t look at the Old Testament through the New Testament, but rather, we tend to see it as an entirely separate part of the Bible from the New Testament, which is a very wrong look at it. We understand, if we look at the Old Testament as it relates to the New Testament, that the sacrifices which the Israelites offered were a foreshadow of Christ, which ceased to have a purpose once Jesus died. We also can see that the ten commandments; forced obedience, were only a foreshadowing of the obedience we should now have to God’s will for our life; an obedience that springs from love, and gratitude for what Jesus has done for us. Likewise we can see many other things, not the least of which are the passage in Isaiah which Jesus referred to, are a foreshadow of things in the New Testament.

So, the question comes, do we believe as the Jew’s did; that the Old Testament is merely there for the sake of historical record, and to, on occasion, prophecy of Jesus? Or do we believe that the Bible is unified, with no flaws nor separations in it?

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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It’s Only History

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled. (Matthew 26:55-56)

“But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” What an interesting, and clearly wrong, statement that Jesus makes here. After all, everyone knows that all Prophets spoke only to those in their own time period, and only spoke about those in their own time period, and the only value to us which they hold, is in Historical reference.

Except, according to Jesus, not to mention Paul, that isn’t true. The prophets prophesied of Jesus’ betrayal [Psalm 41:9], and of His death and Resurrection [Psalm 22], and everything that they said is still useful for us today [2 Timothy 3:16]. We can just as much from the Old Testament as we can from the new, though the New Testament sometimes states things somewhat more clearly.

The  entire Bible; God’s word, was written for a purpose, and that purpose is never simply to give us some historical facts.–All Scripture is meant to build us, and grow us up to be more like Christ. In the verses quoted above, we see Jesus telling us that through His betrayal, prophecies were fulfilled about Him. But, we aren’t to simply look at Jesus’ betrayal as the only area in which we see Jesus in the Old Testament. A perfect example of this, is Psalm 22, specifically verses fourteen through fifteen:

14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint. 
My heart has turned to wax; 
    it has melted within me.
15 My mouth[d] is dried up like a potsherd, 
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; 
    you lay me in the dust of death. (Psalm 22:14-15)

We can see numerous comparisons between these verses (which, by the way, were never actually true of David–These things never happened to him). e.g. A cross puts all your bones out of their joint, which is one of the things which David talks about here.

The point being this: all Scripture is useful, so let’s treat it that way, rather than discarding it on the basis that (in the Old Testament), “It’s only history.” Or that (in the New Testament), “Jesus was only speaking to these particular people, and not to us.”

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
 

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Interpretations and Applications

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:13-16)

Jesus is fulfilling yet another prophecy, not exactly anything new. Except, this particular prophecy is quite vague. All it says is that the land of Zebulun and Naphtali would see a great light. Couldn’t that easily mean something as different as those areas would merely experience a very sunny day? Who is Matthew (aside from a Holy Spirit inspired author of the Bible) to say that this prophecy was of Christ?

Well, a pretty obvious reason for Matthew’s saying that the prophecy refers to Christ, is that he’s Holy Spirit inspired, and so has that authority. Another possible answer would be to draw the line backwards: i.e. to see that Christ went to those areas, and so the verse must refer to Him. A third possibility is to simply look at Isiah’s Character, and draw the conclusion that this man doesn’t make casual prophecies about the weather, and so the verse must have some sort of further meaning. Which, in this case, would be that it was referring to Christ. So, is it one of the three? All three? Something else entirely?

The New, explains the Old. Matthew knew that Jesus is the light which illuminates hearts and minds, and chases away the darkness. Matthew also knew that Jesus was physically passing through Zebulun and Naphtali, so he made the reasonable connection. Which is why we can come to the conclusion that the New Testament, explains the Old Testament. Take this example:

But to each one of us(A) grace(B) has been  given(C) as Christ apportioned it. This is why it[a] says:

“When he ascended on high,
    he took many captives(D)
    and gave gifts to his people.”[b](E) (Ephesians 4:7-8)

(The actual verse, Psalm 68:18, says that God received gifts from men). Paul tells us that grace has been given to us, and then misquotes a verse to confirm what he said. The doctrine he was trying to teach, allowed him to find a verse, and explain it according to how it applies to us. Back then, in the Old Testament, God received gifts from men. He received their sacrifices, and led those captive to the law. But now, He gives gifts of grace to all who ask, and leads captives of grace. As was said, the New explains the Old.

Now, trying to do what Paul and Matthew did can be dangerous, because we have to be sure that we’re interpreting a verse correctly. Otherwise we could see a random verse, and decide that it means something completely wrong. The base rule though, is that the interpretation must actually make sense, and go from applying to the people in the Old Testament, to applying to us.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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God; Both Good and Just

Hello again!

Today we’re moving on from Micah to Nahum, the next book. — This is what God gave me today in His word:

The mountains quake before him; the hills melt; the earth heaves before him, the world and all who dwell in it. Who can stand before his indignation? Who can endure the heat of his anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, and the rocks are broken into pieces by him. The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him. But with an overflowing flood he will make a complete end of the adversaries, and will pursue his enemies into darkness. (Nahum 1:5-8)

How are supposed to fit all of these verses together? First Nahum says God is fierce and angry, then He calls Him good and a shelter… Which is it? Have we found a contradiction in the Bible?

No, we haven’t found a contradiction in the Bible. In fact, when we look at this and its New Testament fulfillment, it makes perfect sense (its important we always bring in the New Testament when trying to read the Old Testament. If we didn’t do so, we’d end up like the Jews; trying to please God by what we do). You see, God is both  ‘fierce’ and good, and He can be this, because of Jesus:

Jesus endured the fire of God’s wrath; He took our sin onto Himself, thus (because God is just) causing God to pour all His wrath onto Him, and kill Him. Through that; through Jesus taking all our sin onto Himself, God has become our shelter and our Father.

The point being this: God is both good and just.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2012 in Delivered Through Love

 

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Soldiers for the Lord

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

“With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Micah 6:6-8)

We’re told four things here: first, that God wouldn’t be ‘pleased’ with our sacrifices (he isn’t pleased if we offer our firstborn son). Then we’re told the three things God has commanded us to do: to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. — On a side note, those three things aren’t for salvation; we don’t ‘do justice,’ etc. to be saved. We’ll talk more about that in a bit. But for now, lets look at the first thing that we can see:

God Doesn’t Like Our Sacrifices

Now, Micah doesn’t actually go right out and say that God doesn’t like sacrifices. Rather, he shows us some examples of sacrifices we may offer, then says what God actually does require for us to do, and, as sacrificing isn’t in “the list”, its inferred God doesn’t ‘want it’… With that being said, we are told to ‘present ourselves as living sacrifices’ in the New Testament (see Romans 12:1). So, because of that, its reasonable to assume that here Micah is only referring to sacrifices of things which are important to us, and things which we think would draw us closer to God, but in reality aren’t helpful at all (i.e. sacrificing bulls, our first born, etc..). Meaning, in essence, that God doesn’t want us to offer works, He wants us to offer ourselves. Of course, offering ourselves will naturally lead to works, but the works wont be in an effort to be made right with God (which seems to be what Micah is referring to).

Now that we’ve said that… Why doesn’t God want us to offering a couple thousand rams? After all, doesn’t He like seeing a couple thousand of His creations burning? Well, to start with, Isiah tells us all our works are like filthy rags (see: Isaiah 64:6), so no, God doesn’t really like seeing His people wiping themselves with dirty rags, in an effort to make themselves clean. But more, much, much, much more importantly than that, is this:

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (3:16)

So much more worse to God than seeing His people trying to “clean” themselves by their own works, is seeing them reject His free offer of a bath! He hates seeing them struggling to get clean, while all the while He’s offering to wash them clean; to remove any and all stains. Which is why He hates to see us virtually offering our first-born up; He’s already done it! He already offered His son on our behalf, there’s no need for us to do so.

Now, rather obviously in Micah’s time, Jesus hadn’t yet died and risen again. But even then God didn’t like sacrifices, and so set up several things for them to do; i.e. love judgment and the rest – along with several other things, it’s just those three where the most important… Speaking of which, lets look at those three things now:

God Wants us to ‘Do Justice’, ‘Love Kindness,’ and ‘Walk Humbly with Our Lord’

Now, obviously this wasn’t the only things that the Israelites were supposed to do, and neither is it for us. However, as Christians and as an expression of our love for our Lord, we are to be just, kind, and walk humbly with God. But more than that, look at the verbs (I think they’re all verbs, possibly minus the first one) attached to each action: “Do,” “Love,” and “Walk Humbly.”

“Do” implies action. Its doing, its active. “Do”, is a command, not a statement (such as “done”). “Love,” is also an action, but according to Paul it’s also far more:

 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

“Walk”, isn’t just standing still (… Rather obviously). It means movement, rather than just standing by. “Humbly,” means with respect. It means knowing that we’re far inferior to a mighty, all-powerful God. It means submissiveness; we’re to submit to Him, and what He tells us to do. So, we’re supposed to actively try to do justice (in a loving manner), we’re to love doing kindness, and we’re to humbly walk with our Lord.

Finally, in closing, I would like to say this: we aren’t to do the three things I just mentioned because, as, again, I already mentioned, God doesn’t like seeing His people trying to wipe themselves clean with filthy rags. Instead, we’re to do those things because we’re Christians, and as such its our duty to, even if only by our actions, show the love, compassion, and justice of God to others. i.e. We should do it because we should want to, and even if we don’t want, we should do them because its our duty as soldier in the Lord’s army to do them (a soldier must be just, kind to those not his enemies, and must be in constant, humble, connection with his leader).

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

P.S. I recently re-read this post, and saw that my spelling was rather dramatically off (to say the least), and thus the point of what I was trying to say was somewhat diminished. I plan on fixing it in the near future, but in the mean time, please forgive the errors.

Thank you,

Joshua

 

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Transquotation: Genesis 50:20-21

Hello again!

Just to let you know: today will probably be the last day I transquote anything for a long time; it’s the end of Genesis. So I hope God really speaks to you in this transquote. — This is what God gave me today in His word:

Verses:

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. (Genesis 50:20-21)

Transquotation:

When Jesus was being crucified, the Pharisee’s meant for evil. They wanted Him dead. Yet what they intended for evil, God intended for the saving of many lives; our lives. — We are alive (Spiritually) today, because He died. We need to always remember this; it will put our entire life into perspective.

Explanation of the transquote:

Jesus died so that we could live! He gave up His own life for us, He was beaten to the point of not even looking a human being, and then crucified. I would dare to say that the Pharisee’s intended that for evil. They’re like Joseph’s brothers, trying to kill the one they will one day bow down too. Yet what the Pharisee’s, like with what Joseph’s brothers did, God intended for the saving of many lives. Though it’s true the number of lives which were saved by Joseph, and the number of lives saved by Jesus, are different, the point remains: what was intended for evil, God intended for the saving of many lives.

New Testament confirmation:

The following verses are after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead:

45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.

“What are we accomplishing?” they asked. “Here is this man performing many signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.”

49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.”

51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life. (John 11:45-53)

Context confirmation:

So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:21)

The Holy Spirit was sent to “provide for us,” if you will, while we wait for the return of Jesus. Not only for us, but for our (not mine, I don’t have any; I’m still thirteen) children too. — This supports the transquote by strengthening the connection, in this passage, between Jesus and Joseph, and between us and Joseph’s brothers.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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Transquotation: Genesis 49:8

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Verses:

“Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down before you. (Genesis 49:8)

Transquotation:

Praise to God, Jesus has put His hand on the necks of His enemies! He has overcome, He has conquered! Let us worship Him! Let us, now called “His brothers, sons of God” worship Him!

Explanation of the transquote:

Jesus was the ultimate fulfillment of the promise that Jacob makes to Judah here: “Your brothers will praise you.” Just to give you a little reminder here, we are sons and daughters of God now; thus we’re brothers and sisters of Jesus. Thus, so long as we praise Jesus (which is something we should be doing all the time, ‘whether we eat or drink, we should do all to the glory of God’), we’re fulfilling Jacob’s blessing.

“Your hand will be on the necks of your enemies;” Through the piercing of Jesus’ hands (and feet, and heart), He destroyed His enemies; and saved us. — He has conquered! He has shown His dominance over His opponent, and has gained dominion over Satan and all He owns. I’d dare to say that’s He’s “put His hand on Satan’s neck”, wouldn’t you?

Now that we’ve explained the transquote, let’s verify it with the New Testament, and with its context:

New Testament confirmation:

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. (Colossians 2:15)

Context confirmation:

Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? (Genesis 49:9)

Jesus is the fulfillment of this blessing Jacob gave to Judah as well, as we can clearly see in this verse:

5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, (D)the Lion (E)of the tribe of Judah,(F)the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:5)

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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Transquotation: Genesis 48:20

Hello again!

This is what God gave me today in His word:

Verses:

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 48:20)

Transquotation:

Through Jesus’ death for us, God forgets our sin! Through Jesus’ taking on Himself the sin of the world, in fact, becoming sin Himself, and dying, our sin is no more in the sight of God. Rather, He now makes us to be fruitful in His kingdom.

Explanation of the transquote:

It may help at this point to realize the meaning of the names of Joseph’s sons:

Ephraim means, “Doubly Fruitful.” And Manasseh means, “Forgetfulness.” — Now that I’ve filled you in on that…

By them ‘Israel would pronounce blessings.’ To put it another way: by forgetfulness and fruitfulness (not necessarily in that order), people would bless each-other. Which, you may note, is rather like how God blessed us: through His son’s death, He “forgets” (i.e. destroyed along with His son) our sinful nature, and made us “fruitful” in overcoming our sin and sharing the Gospel with others.

Now that we’ve explained the transquote, let’s verify it with the New Testament, and with its context:

New Testament confirmation:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Context confirmation:

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.” (Genesis 48:19)

God “forgets” (i.e. utterly destroys) our sinful nature (as compared to the flesh, which we’ll still have until we die)… But then, He makes us even more fruitful then we were sinful. — This supports the transquote by strengthening the connection, in this passage, between what God does for us, and Ephraim/Manasseh.

You are Loved!

Joshua Cleveland

 

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