Restoring God’s Image and Likeness in Man

We are coming to Nehemiah, the man who separated Judah from the world, as Ezra had done for the family. Nehemiah believed that an isolationist and separatist nation was pleasing to the God of their fathers. This problem has plagued many nations, races, and religions. To all of them, the opposition has become the outsider or the world. Yet, we all must learn to live with each other in order to survive. No one can please God without each other. The truth spoken by Jesus what God had said, “‘I am the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living’” (Matthew 22:32). In His priestly prayer, Jesus prayed for his disciples, how to manage in the world:

Restoring God’s Image and Likeness in Man

Zechariah and the leaders of the newly reborn Judah only seemed to have heard about God coming back to bless Jerusalem and make Jerusalem strictly into a separatist Levitical Utopia. Altogether, they misread the signs and regarded the returning people, who were attracted to the temple and to Jerusalem, as evidence that God was behind it. History proved that they lived on “presumption”; for, the people had not met God’s conditions. Therefore, they, themselves, forfeited the fulfilment of God’s promise. Without God’s fulfilment, their faith and their expectations were in vain. “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you need not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:22). Zechariah did hear the Lord, but he failed to fulfill God's conditions to claim the blessings of God. They were to have an open city, where the “Law of God” would govern, and not where their “Levitical observances and their rituals” governed. Where Zechariah failed to listen to God; therefore, God used the Hellenized Syrians and the Romans to open the city Jerusalem to the world.

Partners of the Holy Spirit: Part #5

The flood, to Noah and his sons and their wives, was clear evidence of the invisible “Presence of God” and invisible “Power of God,” whose Spirit does not trifle with man’s ill behavior. For, God was the “One” who blessed man with goodness. And God punishes man for being evil (Genesis 6:3). That concept of God, doing both: “to bless and to curse” would become the norm for the people who believed in Yahweh Elohim, the God of the Jews, and also their cousins, the Christians and the Muslims (Deuteronomy 27-28). Jesus, Himself, began His “Sermon on the Mount” with blessings (Matthew 5:1-12). Noah still built an altar where his spirit reached out to God’s Spirit (Genesis 8:22). The next man who reached out to God was Abram. He also built an altar to God. Abram had some kind of a relationship with God based on what God could do for Abram (Genesis 12:8-9). Noah’s hope was that his oldest son Shem would be the one who would allow God communicate with him. However, Noah’s curse on his grandson Canaan, became the blessing for mankind. So, when Abraham came to Canaan, he found himself surrounded by people who were the descendants of the man Noah had cursed. The Canaanites were aware of the Creator God, in additions to their families and their local gods. For our benefit, the writer of Genesis provided us with the crucial reports how Noah partnered with God, and so did Abram when he saved Lot and his friends from their enemies, who had taken them captive. Abram did love his neighbors by protecting them.

The Covenant is God’s Will for Man

The birth of Israel, as a nation, began with the first “Passover meal” on the night when God spared the Hebrews from losing their first-born sons. And “day one” began as a people who no longer belonged to Egypt, but to Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This day also began as the “year one” in the Hebrew calendar. The Lord, Himself, set the conditions for the “New Nation” and He gave the instructions to Moses and Aaron:

Restoring God’s Image and Likeness in Man

Ahasuerus, king of Persia reigned between Darius, the Second, and Artaxerxes, the First. He was not favorably disposed toward the Jews because of his trusted minister Haman, who hated Mordecai. Mordecai was a leader among his people, an opportunist, and a very clever plotter. Haman underestimated his cunning ability to build traps for his enemies. Mordecai was the kind of a person who was willing to sacrifice Esther, his own niece, to gain favor with the king. The writer of “The Book of Esther” depicts Mordecai as the innocent victim and Haman as the villain. Let us follow Mordecai’s trail and see what he did to get where he wanted to go and see who initiated the hatred that almost destroyed his people.