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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

Genesis 14:13, "And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram."

This morning, our mind has focused on origins. When looking at the   book of Genesis, there are many origins, which is that the word "genesis" means. So many things that will be repeated in Scripture are shown first in this book, and their introduction many times sets the stage for how they will be identified later throughout the pages of Scriptures. As we look at one of the origins this morning of a certain term, let us see what we can glean from its introduction and eventually how that it applies to us today. While looking at historical records are interesting, the interest level rises whenever we can see relevance in the now.

For several chapters before our verse, we are seeing the introduction of a man to Scripture that will be an important figure for the rest of the book: Abram (later named Abraham). This man, through no previous merit or demerit as stated by Scripture, is called out of his nativity by God. The rest of his life from ages 75-175 is shown generally in Genesis in his interaction with God and walk of faith during different seasons. In our verse, we see the introduction of the word "Hebrew" and its connection with Abraham. He is the first person in the Bible called a Hebrew, which will be a term later used as synonymous with Israelites. Many historians and theologians like to attribute this moniker to Abraham's lineage in that he came from a man named Eber, his great, great, great, great grandfather. (Genesis 11:17-26) Yet, it seems strange to think that Abraham - so many generations down the line from Eber - would be the first one to openly be called such by Scripture.

Looking at the word Hebrew, the literal rendering of it is "one from beyond." By the time we have reached our verse, Abraham has travelled from Ur of the Chaldees to Canaan's Land with his wife Sarah and nephew Lot. Further still, Lot has left uncle Abraham to pitch his tent towards Sodom, with Abraham still dwelling in the land of Canaan. A few chapters from now, when his wife Sarah dies, we see that Abraham dwelt in this land with the children of Heth and other descendants of Canaan. (Genesis 23) So, Abraham's moniker of being a Hebrew speaks less of his lineage from Eber as it does to his station and dwelling place. To say that Abraham was one from beyond references how he was viewed by those that lived around him.

In other words, Abraham was a stranger, different, and lived an unusual life by their perspective. Consider also that Abraham's life, by this point, was probably different than those of his own kin back in Ur. God called him out, called him to be different, and called him to be separate even from those kinsman that he was once associated with. Abraham's life of obedience and service to God is referenced repeatedly in the New Testament by inspired Scripture, and it is repeatedly idolized by his natural descendants, particularly when they were interacting with Christ Jesus. What made Abraham so special? Why was he so different? The first and greatest reason was that God called him to be different, and the secondary reason was that Abraham showed it by obediently following the things that God called him unto. The New Testament shows that not only was Abraham a born-again child of God, called to be such, but he showed it in faith and works, being justified by both to himself and his fellowman. (James 2)

Abraham's lifestyle was different from the inhabitants of Canaan. This man wandered about from place to place in sheepskins and goatskins as he built alters unto the Lord and worshipped Him. Abraham bore no natural kinship to the men of Canaan (Abraham being a descendant from Shem while they descendants from Ham). All of these factors - and perhaps many others - show that Canaanites viewed him as one from beyond, a stranger, and different from themselves. Now that we have seen the origin of this word, how does that foreshadow the rest of its usage in Scripture, and ultimately how is it relevant today?

Looking at the occurrence of this word as it arises during the times of the children of Israel, we see that Joseph was charged by Potiphar's wife as one that was different from them. (Genesis 39:14) Jonah declared his difference of lifestyle from the other mariners before they threw him overboard. (Jonah 1:9) Paul addresses people in the New Testament that were national Hebrews to show them some spiritual lessons that they needed to learn in the book of Hebrews. All of these show the natural course of the word as it applies to natural descendants of Abraham: the first Hebrew. Yet, in this first Hebrew, we see that he connects people that are not his natural relation.

Paul asserts that many different people, who live and walk by faith, are blessed with faithful Abraham. (Galatians 3:9) He further declares that this makes Abraham the father of us all. (Romans 4:16) The icing on the cake of this subject is that Abraham's promises are unto us if we are in Christ. (Galatians 3:29) In the previous paragraph, we note that each occurrence is restricted to natural Hebrews. These connected thoughts we have just laid out show that there is such a thing as spiritual Hebrews that may or may not be directly related to Abraham. It is this thought that dominates the New Testament rather than some sort of national or class struggle. How is one a recipient and partaker of that promise that he be blessed by Abraham and part of that innumerable host as the stars of the sky or sand by the sea shore? Paul asserts that being in Christ, elected, chosen, and loved by Him, puts us in the promise of Abraham's seed.

This flies in the face of natural Jewish (Hebrew) thinking. They would like to say, "If ye be Abraham's seed, then are ye Christ's and heirs..." Paul turns it completely around in Galatians 3:29 to say that Abraham's promise is ours as well contingent upon being in Christ elected into His family by God. Moving on from this blessed state and position, Paul references Abraham being our father. While none of my family, that I am aware of, are natural Jews or Hebrews, Scripture still gives me the authority to claim Abraham as my father. As the first Hebrew, my lineage to him is not linked by blood from father to son. Rather, my kinship to him is linked by faith that guided him and should serve to guide me as well. Who is it that are blessed with faithful Abraham in Galatians 3:9? Paul asserts that the faithful are blessed with him.

Thanks be unto God that our position in Christ is not contingent upon our faithfulness, but our connection to Abraham, in appearance, is contingent upon how we live: we must be faithful. Lot was a close relative of Abraham, but his life looks very different. He went to Sodom, and continued going down from there. He dwelt in the gate of the city, no doubt conducting business the way anyone else there would. Lot was indeed Abraham's natural relation, and Scripture affirms his inclusiveness into Christ's family. (II Peter 2:7-8) However, Lot's faithfulness was lacking, and people would not look at him as one from beyond. He did not look much like a stranger in his environment.

Being faithful in an unfaithful world brings about a notice of change. The followers of Christ were first called Christians at Antioch, and that is the first mention of that word. What is the significance? The significance is that they were behaving much like Abraham in that they looked like those from beyond (somewhere else), who were strangers to the "normal lifestyle" and way of doing things. To enjoy the type of life, fellowship with God, and smiles of God's pleasure in our lives, we need to exercise faith much like Abraham, which action the world will notice as different. No one should have to strive to look different (as we see some sadly doing). The world will notice when one is different, and no amount of coaxing is needed. Spiritual Hebrews that try to walk as did Abraham, confessing that they are strangers and pilgrims in this earth will be perceived as different.

It is often asked, "What is in a name?" Solomon asserts that a good name is better than great riches. (Proverbs 22:1) Having a name that the world despises should be a savour of life in us like it is a savour of death in them. (II Corinthians 2:16) How does the term Hebrew apply today? What are we known by, what name, etc? Do people see us as those from beyond, as they say in the south, "Ain't from around 'ere?" Do they see us with lifestyles that are different from what the world promotes? Most importantly, do they see us as faithful to our leader IN ALL SEASONS? If so, they may not refer to us as Hebrews, but the point is the same. May we be faithful unto death, freely confessing that our pilgrimage here is but a short space, and that shortly we shall be going home.




 



In Hope,

Bro Philip