My beloved spiritual children in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE. Ο ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ ΕΝ ΤΩ ΜΕΣΩ ΗΜΩΝ! ΚΑΙ ΗΝ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΙ ΚΑΙ ΕΣΤΑΙ.
AN EXPOSITION OF THE PREACHING OF THE APOSTLE (Part III)
by Saint Irenaios of Lyons
[Note: "Way back in the 6th century B.C., traders from the Greek city Phocaea, about 200 miles northwest of Smyrna, established a colony near the mouth of the Rhone. Eventually to become their most famous colony, it was called Massalia, later Massilia and still later Marseilles. Family relationships were there from the first, of course, and as Massalia become an important trade center, commercial relationships also became common. All these ties would make the spreading of the Gospel from Asia Minor to Gaul most natural. And, in fact, there was an early close connection between the churches in these widely separated areas. Between Smyrna and Lyons there was an especially warm relationship.
Lyons lies about two hundred miles up the Rhone River from its mouth and the old city of Marseilles..."
The Regeneration of the World
One of the sons, however, fell under a curse, while the other two inherited a blessing because of their good deeds. Ham the younger, mocked their father and because of this outrage and offense against his father, received a curse. The penalty did not, however, fall upon him alone, but upon all his children, so that all his descendants were wicked, increasing and multiplying in sins.
Shem and Japheth, his brothers, received a blessing because of their proper behavior toward their father. The curse which Noah laid upon Ham is this: "Cursed be the child Ham; a servant shall he be to his brethren" (Genesis 9:25). After having received this curse, Ham had many descendants upon the earth, growing wildly for fourteen generations after which God brought them to judgment and destroyed them. The posterity of Ham, who had fallen under the curse, includes the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perezites, the Hivites, the Amorites, the Jebusites, the Gergasites, the Sodomites, the Arabians, those who live in Phoenicia, all the Egyptians, and the Lydians. This curse the ungodly was of long duration.
Just as the curse passed on to the descendants of the one cursed, the blessing also came down to the descendants of those who were blessed. The first blessed was Shem, in these words: "Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; Ham shall be his servant" (Genesis 9:29). The meaning of the blessing is that God, the Lord of all, should be a peculiar possession of worship for Shem.
This blessing blossomed when it reached Abraham, a descendant of Shem in the tenth generation. The Father and God of all was pleased to be called "the God and Father of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob" (Exodus 3:6), for Shem's blessing was meant for Abraham.
Japheth's blessing was this: "God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the house of Shem, and Ham shall be his servant" (Genesis 9:27). This blessing came to fruition in the fullness of time in the Gentiles who responded when the Lord extended His call to them, "and their sound went out unto all the earth, and their words unto the end of the world" (Psalm 19:4; Romans 10:18). "Enlarge," then, indicates the calling of people from among the Gentiles, that is, the Church. "He dwells in the house of Shem" means that these people are heirs of the Patriarchs, receiving in Jesus Christ the right of the firstborn. Thus, each receives the fruit of his particular blessing by having that blessing conferred upon his descendants.
After the flood God also made a covenant with the whole world, including humanity and all animals, that He would not again destroy all life on earth by means of a flood. Further, He established a sign of His covenant, saying, "When the sky is covered with clouds, a bow shall appear in the cloud, and I will remember my covenant, and will no more destroy with water every living thing that moves upon the earth" (Genesis 9:14f).
He also changed the food of mankind, allowing them to now eat flesh, for from Adam the first man until the flood they had eaten only seeds, and the fruit of trees, not being permitted to eat flesh. Since the three sons of Noah were the foundation for a continuing race of men, God blessed them for multiplication and growth, saying: "Increase and multiply, and replenish the earth and rule it; and the fear and dread of you shall be upon every living thing of animals and upon all the fowls of the air: and they shall be to you for meat, even as the green herb; but the flesh with the blood of life you shall not eat; for your blood also will I require at the hand of all beasts and at the hand of man. Whoso sheds a man's blood, in return for his blood shall it be shed, for in the image of God made He man" (Genesis 9:1-6).
The "image" is the Son of God, in whose image man was made. For this reason he appeared in the fullness of time (cf. I Peter 1:20) to show that the image was like Himself. Following this covenant, the race of mankind multiplied springing up from the descendants of the three sons of Noah. And, "upon the earth there was one lip" (Genesis 11:1), that is, one language.
The Tower of Babel
Mankind arose and left the land of the East, and as they traveled through the earth, they came to the broad land of Shinar. There they began to build a tower, intending to reach up to heaven. They wished to leave this monumental work as a memorial of themselves to those people who would come after them.
The building was being built of baked bricks and bitumen, and by the boldness of their recklessness, they were making great progress. Being of one heart and mind, they were well served in reaching for their goal by having a single common language (cf. Genesis 11:2-4).
God intervened, however, to keep them from going any further, and divided their languages so that they could no longer understand one another (cf. Genesis 11:45-9). As a result they became divided and dispersed, going out in groups according to their respective languages, and occupying new lands. Thus came about the variety of tribes and languages existing throughout the earth. Now these races of mankind occupied the earth, one of which was under a curse, the other two under a blessing. The blessing first came to Shem, whose descendants lived in the East, holding the land of the Chaldeans (cf. Genesis 11:18, 31).
Abraham and the Lord
With the passing of time, ten generations after the Flood, came Abraham, seeking the God Who, by the blessing given his ancestor, was his rightful due. Following the urging of his heart, he roamed here and there, trying to find God. Just when he was about the give up the search, God took pity on this one who alone was quietly seeking Him. Appearing to Abraham, He made Himself known through the Logos/Word, as by ray of light.
God spoke to Abraham from the heavens, saying, "Go forth out of thy country and from thy kindred and come into the land which I will show thee" (Genesis 12:1; Acts 7:3), and dwell there. Abraham trusted the voice from heaven, and now already seventy years old, with a wife who was also old, left Mesopotamia, taking her with him. Joining him on the pilgrimage was Lot, son of his dead brother.
When he came to the land which is now called Judea, occupied at that time by seven tribes descended from Ham, God appeared to him in a vision and said: "To thee will I give this land, and to thy seed after thee, as an everlasting possession" (Genesis 17:8). Further, He told him that his descendants would be strangers in a land not their own, there to be tormented, ill-treated, and enslaved for four hundred (400) years, and in the fourth generation of bondage, they would return to the place promised to Abraham. God would at the same time judge the people who had enslaved them (cf. Genesis 15:13-16; Acts 7:6f).
In order that Abraham would know not only the glory but the great number of his descendants, God took him outside at night and said: "Look up to heaven, and behold the stars of heaven, if thou be able to number them; so shall thy seed be" (Genesis 15:5). When God saw the faith and determination of his spirit, He bore witness of it by the Holy Spirit, saying in the Scripture, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3).
At the time of that declaration Abraham was uncircumcised, so God gave him circumcision as a sign of the excellence of his faith: "A seal of the righteousness of that faith which he had in uncircumcision" (Romans 4:11). After this there was born to him a son, Isaac, of Sarah his wife, who had been barren, according to the promise of God (cf. Acts 8:8; Genesis 21:1-4). Abraham circumcised him also, in accordance with the covenant God had given him.
Later, Jacob was born of Isaac (cf. Genesis 25:25). In this way the original blessing given to Shem reached down to Abraham, from Abraham to Isaac, and from Isaac to Jacob. On each of them the Spirit conferred the inheritance (cf. Romans 9:7-13; Genesis 21:12; Genesis 25:23; Malachi 1:2), for He was called "the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob" (Exodus 3:6). Twelve sons were born to Jacob, and from them the twelve tribes of Israel received their names (cf. Acts 7:8; Genesis 35:23-26).
(Source: The Preaching of the Apostles by Very Rev. Fr. Jack N. Sparks)
(To be continued)
MY BLESSING TO ALL OF YOU
The Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God and Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.
"Glory Be To GOD For All Things!"--Saint John Chrysostom
With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God