JULY 2016 OUTDOOR GOSPEL LECTURES OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, OGO- OLUWA
THEME: Ask for the Old Path (Jer. 6: 16)
Topic: THE OLD PATH OF GOD DEALING WITH MAN. – P. O. AFOLAYAN, ESQ.
Background to Jeremiah 6: 16:
Prophet Jeremiah wrote in the last days of the Southern Kingdom of Judah around 612 BC after the Northern Kingdom of Israel had gone into Assyrian captivity with the fall of Samaria in 722 BC. He warned Judah they would suffer the same punishment from God because they had abandoned the “old path” in their relationship with Jehovah with whom they had a covenant –Deut. 5: 1-3. He told them the LORD would no longer tolerate the idolatry, injustices, corruption and other forms of unrighteousness of which Judah (like Israel before it) was guilty. So, what was the old path that God wanted Judah to ask for? We shall answer that question presently.
Our aim is to share with the listener the time-tested principles upon which the Creator of mankind has dealt with him from the beginning till the present time, as revealed in biblical history. That is, we shall look at the common thread that runs through God’s relationship with man in all the ages of human history. Our sole purpose for embarking on this task is to encourage the listener to rediscover true fellowship with God upon God’s own terms and principles which constitute the “old path”.
(1.) Man’s freewill (2.) Covenant (3.) Faith (4.) Obedience/ loyalty (5.) Reward/ punishment.
The Adamic Age:
Adam and Eve were created with the power of free will to choose between the word of God and the dictates of human desire. In Gen. 1: 26- 29, we see God giving man the power to subdue the earth and exercise dominion over it. This is an indication of man’s liberty to act as he chooses with respect to everything in his environment as he considers necessary or desirable. In effect, he was not a robot but a being capable of rational thought and favorable decision. Hence, Adam and Eve understood their liberties and their obligations as spelt out by God. They heard the word of God, their creator. Faith comes by hearing the word of God –Rom. 10: 17. They were capable of faith in God and understood the need to keep the prohibitive command given to them in Gen. 2: 16-17. They obviously believed and obeyed for a while and while the faith lasted, they enjoyed God’s fellowship and visitations. But when in Genesis 3: 1- 8 unbelief and disobedience came in through deception, they broke a covenant of dominion, peace and immortality. They suffered the punishment for the disloyalty in the form of toiling, labor pains, physical death and separation from God – Gen. 3: 16-19.
Noah also was a man faced with the challenge of accepting and believing the voice of God about impending destruction of the world in the midst of a disbelieving, scornful and wicked generation of whom the LORD had grown weary – Gen 6: 5- 8. He believed a prophecy that seemed impossible and accepted an almost impossible task –Gen. 6: 13-17. In obedience to God who had promised him a covenant of survival and continuity (v.18), Noah did everything as he was commanded (v. 22) and in Chapter 7: 1 God declared that he had found Noah righteous in that generation for his faith and obedience. In line with God’s promise, Noah and all that were with him lived and Noah became the father of a new world as a reward from God, and also the heir of the righteousness which is by faith – Gen. 9: 1- 3, Heb. 11: 7.
Abraham is another example of the sterling principles of the old path of God’s dealing with mankind. With a great promise, God asked him to go to a yet unknown land, far away from his people and country of Ur of the Chaldeans (modern day Iraq). Exercising his freewill, he believed God and obeyed –Gen. 12:1-4. He went to dwell in Haran, then in Moreh in the land of Canaan. When he was yet without a child he believed God’s promise to increase him greatly and give the land to his seed as an inheritance – v. 7; 13:15-17. Going forth and back between Egypt and Canaan, he held on to God’s promise that his seed shall inherit Canaan after four hundred years of slavery in Egypt. Gen. 15:18- “In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:”
Even after he had his covenant child at the age 100 (21: 1-5), he did not hold the child back from God when asked to sacrifice him (22: 10-12). He trusted God completely and he is today described as the father of faith – Rom. 4: 16. All of God’s promises to Abraham came to pass and most importantly the nations of the world are blessed through the seed of Abraham, our Lord Jesus Christ. What a wonderful reward.
Israel – In fulfilment of God’s covenant with Abraham, his seed (children of Isreal) possessed the land of Canaan after their long sojourn in Egypt. On their way to possess their inheritance, they were given a law and diverse ordinances to guide their relationship with God (Ex. 20:3- 17). God required them to have the faith of their father Abraham and not to have any other gods besides Him, being mindful of the wonderful manner in which he had delivered them from Egypt . He demanded obedience/loyalty from them. Deuteronomy 5:1-3 reads:
“1. And Moses called Israel and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that you may learn them and keep, and do them. 2. The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3. The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.”
God’s covenant with Israel was to be their God who would prosper them in all ways and protect them from evil and their enemies if they would be loyal to Him –Deut. 28:1-7. However, the covenant also prescribed severe punishments for disloyalty and disobedience –Deut. 28: 15- 68. (*vs. 63-64). Did Israel have a choice in all this? Yes, they did. Hear what Moses told them as they approached Canaan.
“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live”. –Deut. 30: 19. (See also Joshua 24: 14-21).
Unfortunately, as pointed out in the introduction, Israel from generation to generation did not keep faith with God or honor the covenant. They fell into all manner of unrighteousness to the displeasure of God. They forgot how He redeemed them from slavery in Egypt, how He cared for them in the wilderness for forty years, how he destroyed their enemies before them and uprooted other peoples from Canaan in other to plant them in the land, and how he prospered them in the land. The scriptures say of them in 2 Kings 17: 13- 15:
“13. Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets. 14. Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God. 15. And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.
For their lack of faith, rebellion and stubborn refusal to take warning, Israel and Judah were utterly put to shame. Israel went into Assyrian captivity in 722 BC and Judah also started going into Babylonian captivity from 597 BC and her hallowed Temple in Jerusalem was finally destroyed in 587 BC. In addition to the tragedy of desolation, God began to unfold his plans for a new age by promising a new covenant that would form the basis of his relationship with all mankind – Jer. 31: 31-33. He promised a covenant that would be more glorious, encompassing and impacting upon the very heart of those who would become the “true Israel of God”.
Jesus Christ is the mediator of God’s new covenant with mankind –Heb. 8: 6-13. He mediated it with his blood and by it reconciles mankind back to God –Heb. 9: 15-16. In the second lesson in this series which comes up tomorrow the length and breadth of the blessings and obligations of those who accept to live under the new covenant will be considered. But for now, we must consider the question “Has God changed those fundamental principles upon which His relationship with mankind has been founded through the ages? The answer is “No”. The following are still operative:
Matt. 11:28- 30 – “28. Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”.
Are you willing to accept the rest and liberty or prefer to live in bondage of religion, fear and carnality? Will you be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ? Choose!!!
Heb. 9:15 – “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance”. (See also Matt. 26:28, Heb. 10: 28-29).
Heb. 11: 6 – “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”
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”. (Heb. 3:7-8.
Jn. 15: 21 – “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him”. (See also Matt. 7:21-24, Heb. 5:8-9).
Jam. 1:25 – “But whosoever looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”
Rom. 6:23 – “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord”.
Rev. 21: 7-8 – “7. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Jehovah God is unchangeable (Jam. 1:17, Heb. 13:8) and so are his principles as far as his relationship with mankind is concerned. He has at diverse times adopted various methods in dealing with us, but the basic principles remain the same. Those principles constitute the “old path” which all who want fellowship with God and who want to avoid eternal separation from Him must seek, find and walk therein.