THE FIRST PRIORITY
MATTHEW 6:33: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”
This verse indicates the essential priority, that priority being to heed the commandment of Jesus,
“Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”
And those things which shall be added unto us are the very things after which the Gentiles seek. God, through Jesus, says these will be added unto us as a natural consequence of seeking FIRST His kingdom.
We read in Isaiah 51:1-2 that those who followed after righteousness and sought the Lord were told to look to Abraham their father, and Sarah who bare them. So our search for the kingdom of God and His righteousness takes us back to that man, Abraham.
Many readers may immediately protest that they are not the descendants of Abraham, for obviously they are not Jews. We do not mean to imply that they are, for it is a matter of interest that Abraham was not a Jew either, and that may be a surprise to many. The fact that one may have been so misinformed from childhood does not change the truth of the matter.
The story of Abraham, or Abram as he was originally named, begins in the 12th chapter of the Book of Genesis. In verse 2 of that chapter God made a certain promise to Abram that He would make of Abram a great nation. There is only one condition attached to that promise. That condition was that Abram was to leave his homeland, Ur of the Chaldees, and go to a land that God would show him. God at the same time said that He would make Abram’s name ‘great’, and that Abram, through his progeny, would be a blessing to all the families of the earth.
Since Abram has long since died and gone to the grave it should be obvious that it was not in Abram himself that all the families of the earth are blessed, but in his descendants. In a very real sense we say that this blessing of the families of the earth has taken place in the person of our Lord and Saviour Jesus the Christ. But even here not all the families of the earth have yet been blessed. This will come to completion only when Jesus comes to rule and reign from the throne of his father David, and that is part of the study of the meaning of the term “Kingdom of God.”
It is not our intention to go into every detail of the story of the Kingdom, for that would take too much time. So you will be expected to supply some of the details from your own study or knowledge of the subject.
Many promises were made by God to Abram, and they can be found throughout the Book of Genesis: We will mention, and perhaps expound on, a few of them as we proceed.
We are told in Genesis 12:4 that “Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him.” Therefore he obeyed God, and as a consequence is it wrong to believe that God would keep His promise to Abram, make him the father of a great nation, and make his name ‘great‘? When one considers the condition of those who are commonly said to be ‘all Israel’, that is the Jews, can one honestly aver that they have ever been a ‘great nation’, or that they have ever been called ‘great’?
The greatest time in the history of Israel occurred during the reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon, but as far as any profane history is concerned they might as well have never existed! Yet the Bible is replete with these kings and their times! One could only assume, then, that either the profane or the Biblical histories are incorrect! Which one would you prefer to accept? If you accept Jesus Christ as your Saviour and Lord then you must also be prepared to accept His sayings in regard to Biblical matters, and He stated that “the Scriptures cannot be broken.” If He was wrong, what kind of Lord and Saviour do you really have? If we are honest we will always find ourselves faced with this problem – if the Lord didn’t know what it was all about then we have no hope – if He was right, then it is our duty to accept what He said, whether we fully understand it or not. We must do our best to obey His commandments, since we cannot serve both God and Mammon, nor can we expect to reap other than what we sow.
In Genesis 13:16 God told Abram that He would make his seed, (his descendants), to be as numerous as the dust of the earth. At that particular time Abram was over 75 years of age, and he had no children! In Genesis 15:1-6 we read,
“After these things the word of the Lord came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram; I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me Thou hast given no seed, and lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And behold, the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And He brought him forth abroad, and said, look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them; and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness.”
Abram wanted to make his chief steward, one Eliezer, his heir, but God refused, and told him that he would have ‘seed’ and that they would be as the stars of the heavens for number. It is interesting to know that at that particular time it would have been quite possible to number the stars, for by the naked eye one could see only a few thousand at the most. But in this day and age we find that the number of known stars has increased beyond measure. The invention of the telescope and space technology has changed our whole concept of things. Do you not suppose that God, Who created it all, knew this when He said that Abram’s seed would be as the stars for number?
In verses 9-18 of Genesis 15 we are given the account of how Abram was required to kill certain animals and birds, to divide the animals in half, and place the halves so that there would be a lane between them. And later, when the sun had gone down,
“behold, a smoking furnace and a burning lamp passed between the pieces.”
This is widely accepted as being a form of oath, the passing between death, or through death, and that God, in this manner, swore to Abram that He would be bound to perform those things which He had promised. God put Himself under oath! Could any promise be stronger than that?
There was nothing required of Abram in this matter. God made the promises and attached no conditions to them. For anyone who maintains that because the Law was broken by the descendants of Abram therefore God put them away in favour of a ‘Gentile church’ or whatever, let us take a look at what the Apostle Paul has to say on the subject,
“And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect” (Galatians 3:17).
The Law given to Moses came four hundred and thirty years after the promises made to Abram, and cannot disannul those promises! We are not saved by the keeping of the Law – but in the keeping of it there is great reward! The Psalmist stated quite clearly,
“The Law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.”
How many who have been converted are taught anything about the Law? But we are a bit ahead of our story, so back to Abram.
In chapter 16 of Genesis we are given the story of how Abram’s wife Sarai gave Hagar, her handmaid, an Egyptian woman, to Abram for wife. Sarai had given up hope of ever being able to bear a child to Abram, for she was considered to be past the age of giving birth. Abram had a son by Hagar, and this son was named Ishmael. Now the point is this; there are Arab peoples in the world today who claim descent from Abram through Ishmael. If this is true, and we have no reason to doubt it, then if, as so many Christian people say, “Abram was a Jew,” then it naturally follows that these same Arabs, descended from Abram, must also be considered as Jews! Would they thank you for calling them Jews? And that is not said with the intention of casting any slur on those people who are “Jews”, but just to show you the result, the logical conclusion, to be drawn from the things we have been wrongly taught.
“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said, unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be perfect. And I will make a covenant between me and thee, and I will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face; and God talked with him, saying, As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be the father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee” (Genesis 17:1-7).
God said in so many words that this was His covenant with Abraham, and his seed after him. Abraham did not have anything to do with the making of this covenant – God made it. It is therefore up to God to keep that covenant. Otherwise what He has promised to Abraham He has failed to do. We cannot accept such an idea of God’s impotence.
God created the universe, and everything in it, including the human race. We are thus His responsibility! If He wants us to become of a certain nature, you can be sure that we will in the end become what He has decreed.
“The earth is the Lord’s, and the fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein.”
Courtesy. The Kingdom Herald