Chapter XI: Abraham's Family in the Dispensation for Restoration

Introduction

As a result of Ham's lack of faith, the Dispensation for Restoration was not successfully carried out in Noah's family. However; God has absolutely predestined his Will to fulfill the Purpose of Creation. On the basis of the loyal and devoted heart of Noah, God called Abraham to carry on the Dispensation. So Abraham had to establish the Foundation for the Messiah, which Noah's family had failed to do.

I. THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH

A. The Central Figure for Restoring the Foundation of Faith

In the Dispensation for Restoration centered on Abraham's family, the central person for restoring the Foundation of Faith was Abraham. After an indemnity period of 400 years and 10 generations from the time of Noah, God chose Abraham to take Noah's place. Abraham was the son of Terah, an idol worshipper, and therefore loved by Satan. God claimed Abraham as indemnity to restore Satan's having taken Ham, the second son, who had been in a position to be loved by God.

Because Abraham took the place of Noah, and thus the place of Adam, God also blessed Abraham, saying that Abraham "would be a blessing" and that he would make Abraham's descendants into a great nation (Gen 12:2). "And he brought him outside and said, 'Look toward heaven and number the stars, if you are able to number them ... I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.'" (Gen 15:5-7) This was God's promise of blessing to Abraham.

B. The Offering Required in Restoring the Foundation of Faith

1. The Symbolic Offering

At that time Abraham asked what the conditions were for him to gain God's blessing: "'... O Lord God, how am I to know that I shall possess it?'" (Gen 15:8).

God asked him to scriface a heifer, a ram and she goat, and a pigeon and a turtle dove (Gen 15:9). These three kinds of sacrificial offerings were the offerings required for restoring the Foundation of Faith. They symbolized all the things of the cosmos, which perfect themselves through the three stages of growth. In other words, God had Abraham sacrifice a heifer, a ram and a she goat, and a pigeon and dove as symbols of the entire cosmos, which had been lost because of the Fall. Thus, this offering is called a "symbolic offering." In addition, these three sacrifices on the altar were intended to represent and restore horizontally the invaded conditions of the three generations of the vertical dispensation -- those of Adam, Noah, and Abraham.

How did Abraham make this significant symbolic offering? We read in Genesis 15:10-13 that Abraham cut the offerings in two and laid one half against the other, except for the birds, which he did not cut in two. Birds of prey came down upon the carcasses and Abraham drove them away. That evening at sunset, God appeared to Abraham and said, "'... Know of a surety that your descendants will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and will be slaves there, and they will be oppressed for 400 years...'" (Gen 15:13). The birds of prey came down upon the carcasses because Abraham did not cut the birds in two. This caused the Israelites to suffer 400 years of opression. Then let us inqure into the meaning of the birds of prey descending upon the offering.

Ever since the Fall of the first man and woman, whenever God works to carry out his Will, Satan moves to block God's way. When Cain and Abel offered sacrifices, Satan was "... couching at the door ..." (Gen 4:7). In Noah's time, the raven symbolized Satan, who was looking for an opportunity to invade Noah's family right after the Flood Judgment (Gen 8:7). Similarly, at the time of Abraham's symbolic offering (as a result of the conditons made) this is sybolically depicted in the Bible as birds of prey descending on the offering.

Then what was Abraham's sin? It was his failure to divide the dove and the pigeon. Why should the offerings have been divided? As a result of the Fall, man and his world came to embody both good and evil. The purpose of the dispensation for salvation is the fulfillment of the Purpose of the Creation. God has worked to fulfill the Purpose of Creation by separating good from evil in both man and his world and then destroying the evil and expanding the goodness. In order for God to relate to anything, it must first be symbolically separated from Satan. Thus, the offerings had to be divided in two.

It was only after the one man, Adam, had been divided in two, in the form of his sons, Cain and Abel, that the scrificial offerings could be made. In Noah's time, God's purpose in separating food and evil and then destroying the evil through the flood was to restore the sovereignty of goodness. God intended to have Abraham indemnify Adam's and Noah's failures to separate symbolically the good and evil by having Abraham cut the offerings in two.

The further significance of dividing the offering was that it would establish the condition of having symbolically separated a world of good sovereignty from the world which is under the dominion of Satan. Also, dividing the offering and draining the blood establishes sanctification by the symbolic removal of the "blood of death," which was inherited through the blood relationship with Satan.

Not cutting the offering in two was analogous to not having separated Cain and Abel, leaving no Abel-type object for God to relate to. Secondly, it represented the failure to separate the good and evil after the Flood Judgment of Noah's time, as a result of which there was no object of goodness through which God could carry out his dispensation. Thirdly, it represented the failure to meet God's requirement to separate (symbolically) a world of good sovereignty from the world which is dominated by Satan, the failure to separate a world where God can have dominion. Finally, since not dividing the offering meant not removing the "blood of death," it meant the offering was not sanctified and therefore that God could not deal with the offering. Consequently, although externally Abraham did offer the sacrifices to God, viewed from the dimension of dispensational meaning it was not a divided offering and therefore was not an offering acceptable to God. Because Abraham offered things which were not divided, his offering amounted to an offering to Satan, and was thus deemed sinful.

What were the consequences of his mistake in the symbolic offering? After Abraham failed in the offering, God told him, "'Know of a surety that your descendants will be sojourners in a land that is not their's, and will be slaves there, and they will be oppressed for 400 years ...'" (Gen 15:13). This was a severe penalty. If this was punishment for Abraham's mistake, why did it fall on his descendants and not on Abraham himself? And why was it for 400 years?

Because Abraham failed in the symbolic offering, the 400-year period of indemnity that had been necessary to find Abraham as the central person was invaded by Satan. Therefore, from God's viewpoint, making up for the lost 400 years would require another 400-year period of separation from Satan. This could not be done in Abraham's generation alone. Because of this his descendants had to restore the lost indemnity period. This was done through the Israelites' 400 years of oppression in Egypt. Thus, the period of suffering was both the period of punishment from Abraham's mistake in offering the sacrifices and the period to establish the foundation of separation from Satan for the sake of the new dispensation.

If Abraham had offered the three kinds of required offerings in accordance with God's will -- in other words

if the symbolic offering had been successful -- then the Foundation of Faith would have been restored. The work of establishing the Foundation of Substance would have taken place in Abraham's family centered on his sons. This would have involved an Indemnity Condition for Removing the Fallen Nature between Isaac, the second son, and Ishmael, the first son. There is no mention of this matter in the Bible because Abraham had already failed in his offering, which was to have restored the Foundation of Faith.

2. Abraham's Offering of Issac

After Abraham's failure in the symbolic offering, God ordered him to offer Isaac as a burnt offering (Gen 22:2), thus beginning a new dispensation. Genesis 22:9,10 states, "When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. Then Abraham put forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son." With absolute faith, Abraham was committed to offering as a burnt offering his son, Isaac -- whom he had received as a blessing. At that moment, an "angel of the Lord" commanded him, "... 'Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing that you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.'" (Gen 22:12)

In the eyes of God the sacrifice of Isaac had much more meaning than just the testing of Abraham's faith. God's dispensation to restore the Foundation of Faith had progressed through three stages in the families of Adam, Noah and Abraham. Although Abraham failed in his symbolic offering, it was God's will that the Foundation of Faith be restored in Abraham's time because it was the third attempt. Through the offering of Isaac, God unfolded a new dispensation on a new level. For Abraham, who deeply valued God's blessing, killing with his own hands and offering the son God had given him as a blessing pained his heart more than sacrificing himself would have. Abraham was able to make this extremely difficult sacrifice in an acceptable manner (Gen 22:12) because of his absolute faith, obedience and loyalty to God.

When God commanded Abraham to offer Isaac, the situation was already such that the entire Creation, including Isaac, had fallen into the hands of Satan through Abraham's failure in the symbolic offering. To separate Isaac from Satan, God asked Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. At the point where Abraham was prepared to make the sacrifice, the absolute faith and obedience within Abraham's heart left no room whatsoever for Satan's accusation. Thus Satan had to leave Isaac. Separated from Satan, Isaac stood on the side of heaven, and God ordered Abraham not to kill Isaac. God had now recovered Isaac, who had been lost. When God says "... now I know ..." in Genesis 22:12, we can understand that he was expressing the reproach he felt toward Abraham's failure in the symbolic offering as well as his joy over Abraham's successful offering of Isaac.

Abraham had succeeded despite the fact that this condition was much more difficult for him than offering his own life as a burnt offering. In offering Isaac, Abraham symbolically killed himself for his failure and made it possible for Isaac to be set up as the resurrected Abraham. Through this offering, Abraham also met the indemnity condition for allowing Isaac to take his place as the central person for the Foundation of Faith. Although the resurrected Abraham and Isaac were two separate individuals, dispensationally they represented one resurrected person. Consequently, the offering of Isaac marks the shift from Abraham to Isaac as the central person in the Dispensation for Restoration centered on Abraham's family.

II. THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH CENTERED ON ISAAC

A. The Central Person for Restoring the Foundation of Faith

Isaac, who represented the resurrected Abraham, became the new central person. He had been resurrected from the brink of death. Abraham's display of faith in God was highly admirable; but Isaac himself had also displayed unshakable faith when, with an obedient heart, he accepted his fate as a burnt offering. It is not exactly clear how old Isaac was at the time of the offering, but from the fact that he carried the wood to be used in it and asked his father where the lamb for the offering was (Gen 22:6,7), it is apparent that Isaac was old enough to understand Abraham's intention to some extent. If Isaac had resisted his father's seemingly irrational plan to kill him for the burnt offering, God would not have been able to accept the offering. Through this we can understand that Isaac was a central person whose obedience was in no way inferior to the loyalty of Abraham.

B. The Offering Required in Restoring the Foundation of Faith

The offering required in restoring the Foundation of Faith was fulfilled by the ram that was offered by Abraham and Isaac: "And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son." (Gen 22:13)

In place of Isaac, Abraham offered the ram that God had prepared. It is easy to picture Isaac, caught up in a feeling of joy and gratitude since he was spared from death, willingly cooperating with Abraham in sacrificing the ram as a burnt offering. This was the symbolic offering that restored the Foundation of Faith centered on Isaac. Even though Abraham offered the ram, from the dispensational standpoint Isaac had become one with Abraham and had inherited his mission; thus, it was Isaac who restored the Foundation of Faith through indemnity by successfully carrying out the symbolic offering in place of his father.

II. THE FOUNDATION OF SUBSTANCE

Based on the Foundation of Faith which Isaac had established, the Foundation of Substance now had to be made in order to complete the Foundation for the Messiah. For this purpose Isaac's two sons, Esau and Jacob, had to meet the Indemnity Condition for Removing the Fallen Nature. If we examine what is mentioned in the Bible based on outward appearances, the activities of Jacob's family raise many questions. Why did the twins, Esau and Jacob, fight even while in their mother's womb (Gen 25:22,23)? Why did God love the second son, Jacob, while he was still in his mother's womb (Rom 9:13)?

Why was Jacob born with one hand grasping Esau's heel (Gen 25:26)? Why did Jacob have Esau swear to sell his birthright to him in exchange for some pottage (Gen 25:32-34)? Why did Jacob cunningly deceive his blind father and take Esau's blessing (Gen 27:1-36)? Why did God so greatly love, protect and bless Jacob throughout his life, despite the fact that he did so many seemingly questionable things? In light of these things, why did God make him the root of the chosen people?

The record of Esau and Jacob's fighting each other even while in their mother's womb tells us that their relationship was not just an ordinary relationship between two brothers. From God's dispensational viewpoint, Esau and Jacob duplicated his dispensation of separating Cain and Abel, with Jacob and Esau representing good and evil, respectively. God "loved" Jacob and "hated" Esau (Rom 9:11-13) even while they were in the womb because the one represented good and the other evil.

Jacob was to be the central person for the Foundation of Substance. First of all he had to meet the indemnity condition for restoring the position of Abel. Jacob met this condition by restoring the birthright of the eldest son of the family. In other words, because Satan had deceitfully taken control of God's Creation through the position of the elder son, Jacob had to meet certain conditions that would restore the birthright of the first-born to God's side.

Jacob also had to meet conditions that would restore the birthright of the first-born on an individual level. With wisdom and cunning, Jacob took the birthright from his elder brother, Esau, by purchasing it with bread and a pottage of lentils (Gen 25:33,34). God blessed Jacob because Jacob realized that the birthright had precious value and did his best to restore it. This is also the reason that God let Isaac give his blessing to Jacob (Gen 27:27). On the other hand, God did not bless Esau because Esau thought lightly of the blessing and sold it for a bowl of pottage.

Secondly, by going through a period of 21 years of drudgery in Haran, which symbolized the world of Satan, Jacob met the conditions for restoring a family from the satanic world to God's side.

Thirdly, through the 21 years in Haran and his victory in wrestling with the angel, Jacob also met the conditions for restoring dominion over all things (represented by the things and wealth earned from Laban, his uncle). When Jacob was returning from Haran to the promised land of Canaan, he wrestled with and prevailed over an angel at the ford of the Jabbok. In doing so, Jacob restored man's dominion over the angels.

By restoring dominion over himself, over a family, over the Creation and especially over the angels, Jacob met the conditions by which God could accept him. Put another way, Jacob met the conditions necessary to inherit the vertical Foundation of Faith that Isaac had established and, by doing so, restored through indemnity the position of Abel and became the central person for the Foundation of Substance. In this way, Esau and Jacob established the positions of Cain and Abel as they had existed at the time God accepted Abel's offering.

To meet the Indemnity Condition for Removing the fallen Nature, Esau, who was in the Cain position, first of all had to love Jacob, who was in the Abel position. Secondly, Esau had to accept Jacob as his mediator. Thirdly, Esau had to obey and submit to Jacob and come under Jacob's dominion. Fourthly, Esau had to stand in the position of multiplying (expanding) goodness by inheriting goodness from Jacob, who had received the blessing from God.

Jacob's efforts to induce Esau to welcome him back and submit to him of his own will were heartrending. Even when Jacob was returning from Haran to Canaan, Esau still had resentment against Jacob because Jacob had previously taken the blessing from him. So Esau led an army of 400 men and went to meet Jacob. When Jacob received news of this he prayed to God and did all he possibly could.

Jacob thought, "... 'I may appease him with the present that goes before me, and afterwards I shall see his face; perhaps be will accept me'" (Gen 32:20). With no reluctance he sent ahead of him as a gift for Esau the more than 500 livestock that he had earned as a reward for his hard work in Haran. Jacob also formulated an alternative plan, dividing the people and livestock into two groups, so that one might flee if Esau attacked (Gen 32:7,8). When he was about to meet Esau, he deliberately put his beloved wife and child in the very rear, so that he was fully prepared to escape if it became necessary (Gen 33:2). He himself went ahead of them, bowing to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother (Gen 33:3). He greatly humbled himself, saying to Esau, "'... for truly to see your face is like seeing the face of God, with such favor have you received me.'" (Gen 33:10)

Jacob did his best to fulfill God's Will and to change Esau's heart from one full of hatred to one that would embrace him with love. Esau was moved by such efforts and sincerity on Jacob's part and welcomed him. Genesis 33:4 goes on to say, "... Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept." Since Esau loved Jacob and welcomed him back, despite the fact that he had taken the birthright from Esau, the Indemnity Condition for Removing the Fallen Nature was fulfilled.

A. The Origin of the Chosen People

Jacob's victory was not only an individual victory. He was the first fallen person to win a victory for God's side. By prevailing over an angel on his way from Haran to Canaan, Jacob had met the Indemnity condition for restoring man's dominion over the angels. For this he was named Israel and was selected as the basis for forming the chosen people (Gen 35:10,11). In Exodus 3:6, God said, "... 'I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.'" This means that God's will for Abraham was fulfilled through Isaac and Jacob and that, from the standpoint of God's dispensation, these three generations are considered as one. Jacob brought about Esau's voluntary submission so that Esau could fulfill the Indemnity Condition for Removing the Fallen Nature. This was the first time that God's side (Abel) had made Satan's side (Cain) submit.

In this way, God set up a victorious individual and a victorious family -- an individual and family that had met the indemnity conditions for making Satan submit. Then, from this starting point, God raised and developed a chosen people. Viewed in this light, the Israelites' becoming God's chosen people is the result of Jacob's individual victory in subjugating the satanic side.

Jacob's course set the pattern for the subjugation of Satan, and this pattern was to be followed by everyone to come after him. Moses and all the prophets had to go through this model course, and the Israelites' as a whole had to go through it. The history of the Israelites provides the historical model of this on the national level. Thus the Israelites' history up to the time of Jesus' coming was the central history of the Dispensation for Restoration. This is the reason that the Bible goes into the history of the Israelites in such great detail, though it would seem to have nothing to do with us today.

Now, let us examine the meaning oh the verse in Romans 9:13, where we read that God "hated" Esau even while he was in the womb. This verse simply means that God was working to fulfill his Dispensation for Restoration through indemnity according to the Principle of the Dispensation for Restoration by placing Esau in the position of Cain. After Esau had completed his responsibility by receiving and loving Jacob, he would have been in the position of restored Cain and would eventually have received the love and blessings of God (Gen 36:7).

B. The Foundation for the Messiah

After the series of delays caused by the failures of the central persons in the Dispensation for Restoration, the Foundation for the Messiah which had been sought ever since Adam's time was finally established for the first time in Isaac's family.

Because Abraham had failed in his symbolic offering, his descendants still had to go through the indemnity period of 400 years of oppression. So, although Isaac's descendants had established the Foundation for the Messiah, they could receive him only after they had gone through this indemnity period. Of course, it was impossible that Isaac's family consist of the same individuals for 400 years. During this time his family expanded and grew into tribes and a nation. After their period of suffering, the descendants of those who had established the family Foundation for the Messiah had to establish it on a national level.

Therefore, the Foundation for the Messiah established in Isaac's family became the basis for starting the course of indemnity which was to establish the national Foundation for the Messiah. In retrospect, Jacob's individual victory led to the establishment of a family to which God could relate. Then, centered on this family, in the next age God began his dispensation to establish the national Foundation for the Messiah. Internally, God expanded the family Foundation for the Messiah to the national level. Externally, however, Isaac's descendants still had to undergo 400 years of oppression as indemnity for Abraham's failure.

Thus, Jacob's 12 sons and the 70 members of the his household went to Egypt, which represented the satanic world, and remained there through 400 years of oppression. By re-separating them from Satan, who had previously invaded, these events would raise the chosen people to the point where God could deal with them in love. God then planned to bring the chosen people back to Canaan in order to establish the national Foundation for the Messiah. On that foundation the Messiah would have been able to come and consummate the Dispensation for Restoration.

God loved and protected the Israelites and sent many prophets to them in order to prepare the Foundation for the Messiah. After the Israelites symbolically gained Satan's submission, God would send the Messiah, who is the fruit of the Dispensation and the true temple. The example set by Jacob in Abel's position, in bringing about the submission of Esau (in Cain's position), was supposed to bear fruit in the final relationship between the Messiah (Abel) and Israel (Cain), representing all mankind. Thus representing all mankind the chosen nation was to fulfill its mission by loving, obeying and serving the Messiah, who is the Abel for all mankind.


The Principle of Creation
How can we know the nature of God, who is invisible? We can know it through observing the Creation. Just as the work of an artist is a visible manifestation of its maker's invisible nature, every being in the Creation is a substantial manifestation of the invisible nature of God, its Creator.

The Fall of Man
Every person has an original mind whose nature is to pursue goodness and repel evil. But fallen people are unconsciously driven by an evil force to commit evil acts, contrary to the desires of their original mind. In Christianity, the one who controls this evil force is known as Satan. This chapter, "The Fall," makes clear the identity of Satan and the origin of evil.

Mission of the Messiah
What is salvation? Salvation in restoration: to save a drowning person is to rescue him and restore him to the state he was in before he began to drown. God's salvation of man means God's restoration of fallen and sinful man to his original state of goodness -- to the position where he can fulfill the Purpose of the Creation.
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