Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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The Promise Keeper 3/26/2014
Dear friends,

Last week we shared of the Promise, Jesus Christ. Today I share with you concerning the promise that God gave to us and of the token that He left with us: The rainbow. This is an article that I wrote a couple of years ago so some of the details may be time dated.

Genesis 9:8 And God spake unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying,
9 And I, behold, I establish my covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
10 And with every living creature that is with you, of the fowl, of the cattle, and of every beast of the earth with you; from all that go out of the ark, to every beast of the earth.
11 And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
12 And God said, This is the token of the covenant which I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
13 I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth.
14 And it shall come to pass, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow shall be seen in the cloud:
15 And I will remember my covenant, which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.
17 And God said unto Noah, This is the token of the covenant, which I have established between me and all flesh that is upon the earth.

We all have seen a rainbow at various times in our lives and quite possibly some of the memories are quite special in that the visible sign of a rainbow has come at a time in one's life that seemed to be an assurance from God of His remembrance of us. God is able to bring assurance of His presence in our lives in many ways through signs, but it is good to remember that God has spoken in the past and often has used a sign to be a token of that which He has said will happen. We need to be careful that we do not place what we deem to be a sign from God to project on God something that He has not said or promised.

As we consider this passage from the Church calender, which is designated for the first Sunday in Lent and which is paralleled by the Gospel reading from Mark which concerns the baptism and temptation of Jesus, we may get a glimpse as to why the church fathers put these two texts together. They are both like new beginnings in that our text speaks of the time after the flood when God placed Noah and his family back on the earth in order continue the Promise through Noah's seed. The beginning work of the fulfilment of the Promised One, Jesus Christ is highlighted in the Gospel text from Mark 1:9-14.

As I spent some time reading and meditating upon that which came before our reading from Genesis 9:8-17, which Moses wrote for the benefit of the children of Israel wandering through the wilderness, I was struck by the awfulness of sin in God's sight, both the judgment and mercy of God towards mankind and the faith of Noah.

In review of the history of the world, God had created all things and saw that it was good and after the sixth day saw that it was very good. He saw one thing that was not good and that was that there was no helpmeet for Adam and therefore created Eve out of Adam. He brought them together in marriage, they enjoyed perfect oneness with Him and with themselves until the serpent tempted them to sin to which they succumbed. The consequences of that fall were explained, the Promise was given and life begin on the earth from one generation to the next, but it was not going that well at all.......

The beginnings of Noah's life are seen in the following verses.

Genesis 5:25 And Methuselah lived an hundred eighty and seven years, and begat Lamech:
26 And Methuselah lived after he begat Lamech seven hundred eighty and two years, and begat sons and daughters:
27 And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.
28 And Lamech lived an hundred eighty and two years, and begat a son:
29 And he called his name Noah, saying, This same shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed.
30 And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters:
31 And all the days of Lamech were seven hundred seventy and seven years: and he died.
32 And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

This is followed by the situation into which God had prepared Noah to be his instrument to continue the Promise: (Jesus would be born in God's time)

KJV Genesis 6:1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,
2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.
4 There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
5 And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6 And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.
7 And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.
8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

It would require far too much time and space to write here the thoughts and meditations that have come to me as a result of beginning to consider the rainbow and why God gave it as a sign. But I would like to make a few points that I think are significant and that relate to our lives today. For if we only look at the scriptures as a historical record and are not able to bring forth to our time and to our lives in this day, the benefit to us will not be that great.

As the sin became more grievious to God, He communicated to the saints (Methuselah, Lamech, Noah)? of that day that He was going to have to bring an end to humanity that was living outside of the Promise. There was at least one man who was living in light of the Promised Messiah and who God was going to use for His purposes:: Noah. He found grace in the sight of God. He told Noah how He was going to bring His judgment upon the earth and gave Noah a heart for the people at that time. We see this in 2 Peter 2: 5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

It takes some time to put the numbers together in order to understand the timetable of when things occurred, but it appears that Noah did not have children as of yet when he received knowledge of God's impending judgment. He and his wife had children after they had received knowledge of the coming destruction of the world. He also had brothers and sisters who were not in the ark when it sailed.

5:32 And Noah was five hundred years old: and Noah begat Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

6:3 And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.

7: 6 And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters was upon the earth.

KJV Genesis 5:30 And Lamech lived after he begat Noah five hundred ninety and five years, and begat sons and daughters:

Superficial reading of this account of the flood from chapters 6-9 brings little benefit if one reads through quite fast. But slow contemplative reading in consideration of the wrath of God against sin, the mercy upon those who fear him, the faith of Noah who trusted in God in the Promise of Christ and of the faithfulness of Noah in following God's commands in everything that he was told to do will bring encouragement and inspiration to anyone who will do it.

God keeps His promises, both to bring judgment and to bring life. Noah received a lot of encouragement from God throughout this entire story, for he was a weak man just a like any of us. He had to have fears of what was to come, he had to have gotten terrible mockery from those who saw him building a boat on dry ground, he must have caused confusion to the mockers when he had children while preaching of the end, he must have wept over his loved ones who were outside the ark after the Lord has closed the door and as it began to rain......As Martin Luther said, we who read this without weeping have hearts of stone.........

I am overcome by this account of Moses of the wrath of God as it was poured out upon the first world.
But I am encouraged today by the rainbow, the sign of God's agreement that He will never destroy the earth again by water. I am encouraged when I look upon it because it reminds me of God's promise to us, but what is even greater are the words that Moses wrote:

KJV Genesis 9:16 And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.

God looks upon the rainbow and He remembers!! That is a personal and an assuring God! Can we imagine that the next time that we see a rainbow that as we look upon it that our God is also looking upon it and He is remembering.. For He promised not only that He would not destroy the earth, but if He can look upon this token, He surely looks upon the greater sign of the agreement that He made with mankind on the Garden of Eden when He promised to save us through Christ: The Cross of Christ. His Son.

I remember one time being separated from my wife by a great distance. As I missed our being together, I remember looking up at the moon and wondering if she was looking up at the same moon also remembering me. It brought peace to my heart knowing that as she looked at the moon and I looked at the moon we were united in our promise to be faithful to one another. God is faithful and may we be faithful to Him by faith.

KJV Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

He is The Promise Keeper. May we be like Noah and trust in Him even in the darkest of times in our lives!

In the hands of the Great Promise Keeper I leave you!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 23 Mar 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Living in the Promise 3/16/2014
Dear friend,

Peace be unto you today.

In the beginning, God created heaven and earth including all material substances as well as all living things, including us. This account is in the first two chapters of the Bible, in the third chapter mankind's fall into sin is described and in Genesis 3:15 the Promise of redemption is given.

KJV Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
4 So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.
6 And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.
7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.
8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.
9 And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.

Abraham was called by God out of what is now modern day Iraq, and he is the beginning of the Promise, for through his family line came Jesus the Christ. He believed what God said to him and he lived in the light of the Promise as he lived among sinful people, the Canaanites. He lived in a tent, built altars in order to worship his Lord and in the end died believing in the Promise.

One man became a family, one family became twelves tribes and from those twelve tribes came the nation of Israel. Abraham first worshipped at altars, then the nation worshipped in the moving tabernacle which Moses had been instructed to build according to the specs that God gave to him, until the the time of the fixed temple was built by Solomon.

People have always lived in the light of the Promise, looking for the fulfillment of the prophecies which pointed to the Promise, Jesus Christ in the OT and in the fulfillment in the New Testament.

Are we living in the Promise of God in Christ Jesus?

What is the Promise?
KJV Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

KJV John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. {he is: or, let him be}
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Romans 4:17 (As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations,) before him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.
18 Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be.
19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb:
20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God;
21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.
22 And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.
23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him;
24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;
25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.

The Promise, note that it with a capital P, which means that the Promise of the OT and the finished work of Jesus Christ in the NT are one and the same. The Promise has always been Jesus Christ and His sacrificial and atoning work on the cross through which God has taken away our sin, placing it on His Son. We are called to believe that message of forgiveness as spoken by God Himself to us through the preaching of Christ and His finished work.

The verses placed up above clearly indicate that God has made atonement for our sin and through believing that message of forgiveness personally we are freed from the guilt of sin.

The two references from 2 Corinthians and from Romans address what is commonly called the Great Exchange: He takes our sins away and grants unto us righteousness. It is entirely His work alone through which our sin is taken away and it is also entirely His work alone by which we are gifted with His righteousness. This is very important to understand, in that there are like two countings going on.. In this case, we have in our account the guilt of our sin. God takes away the counting against us because of our sin by putting it on His Son and then He gives unto us His Son's righteousness through giving unto us the ability to believe that we are righteous.

So there is dual imputation, or we might say, a deimputation and an imputation. Or a decounting and a counting. The removal from our account our guilt of sin and the placing into our account the righteousness of faith.

That is what the Promise is all about.
1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

Hebrews 11: 8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Abraham lived in the Promise...........................even if he did not know where he was going in this life. He trusted and followed God in the pathway that he was led into. Not without sin and error, but he followed God's way, sometimes being corrected and redirected, but he lived in the Promise of the forgiveness of sins.

My dear reader, let us think about this Promise for a minute as we close this meditation. It has been said that one can know God's heart through the one verse that most people have memorized or have knowledge of:

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Begotten Son that whosever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. There is the Promise again. What God has done for us through Christ.

Last night I met a young man who is a new believer in Christ. As we talked together he told me that he had never read the Bible aloud until yesterday when he was asked to read the first chapter of the gospel of John to a dying man. He shared with me that he had not read very many verses when began to cry so much to the point that he had to excuse himself in order to regain his composure. He told me that just hearing the Word of God read by himself had opened up much emotion as the result of hearing the Word read. He shared with me that he wants to learn what real love is from God.

He is longing to hear the voice of the Spirit that takes of Christ and reveals the love of God in Christ Jesus to him. It is a voice that speaks of love, of compassion and of forgiveness of sins to all who receive Him.

I told the young man who was like a sponge soaking up water, or a thirsty runner drinking after running a marathon, that the sweetest words that anyone can ever hear are: Your sins are forgiven... I encourage you today, dear friend, to believe that message of joy and release also. God has taken your sin away and desires that you believe that which He has given to you: His perfect righteousness.

Living in the Promise with you,

Pastor Orval Wirkkala
Posted on 16 Mar 2014 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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The Promise Keeper 3/26/2014
- Posted by Pastor Orval Wirkkala

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