Prologue: how it came to be
Greetings to all. This blog series will explore an epiphany I received last Friday, during our Holy Convocation on Skype. I want to thank all our members, who make the gathering a true joy for me. I give special thank here for our brother Jason; it was his presentation on the covenant of Abraham that laid the groundwork for the awakening; it was also he that spoke the words that caused me to here the striking of the Truth. This is not to elevate one man over another: it is simply right to acknowledge from whence the radix of the understanding emerged.
One of the most vexing elements of my faith walk has been the apparent dichotomy between the Sinai covenant of old, and the Gospel, the new covenant of Calvary. I find myself a product of the latter, who seeks instruction from the tutor, which is the former. Yet, the hobgoblin remains: why does there seem to be such a gulf between them? This struggle-Law vs Grace-has driven much of Western literature. The legendary Hugo explored this theme masterfully in his brilliant epic, Les Miserables.
In our Sabbath gatherings, we have had many discussions on this divide. I am not in the full Torah Observance movement; I look to it as a guide, a teacher. Paul refers to this covenant as that of Hagar, and the Gospel as Sarah. But many believe that it one covenant, building piece by piece over time. We have had vigorous struggles on this theme, which led to the last meeting. I was having a hard time dealing with the Abramic covenants; Genesis 15 is the covenant of flesh, and Genesis 22 the covenant of faith. I saw these as the roots of the Torah and Gospel, two separate events.
Jason presented a paper to address this conflict. He asserted that it was one covenant, whilst I held to 15/17 and 22 being the divide Paul discusses in Galatians. I could not believe that Abraham was not multiplied more in 22 than in 15. Jason asserted that the number in 15 and 22 were the same seed promised, that the sum was given in 15 and 22. In the midst of the debate, Jason made the prophetic (the minor usage, a right witness) statement that made it all clear. He said ” They may look different, but they all meet in the end”. And so it was. In that moment, the sacred chord was struck, and I heard it. We were both right.
Jason was moreso than I; he correctly assessed that 15/17 and 22 were not different covenants at all. I held that Romans 4 clearly came from Gen 22; but then, it also hearkened to Gen 15. Yet Paul refers to Sinai and the Gospel as distinct from each other. It was maddening. Why is it that this happens so often in the Bible? Why is there conflict in a divine revelation? The answer is, there isn’t.
Jason said it perfectly: the seed in 15 and 22 are one number, because they all meet in the end. When those words fell, I was immediately taken to Revelation 12:17: whose children keep the commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. Here, all of Abraham’s children, through Torah and Gospel, meet in the end. Just as the Tigris and Euphrates do, at the Persian gulf, before heading into the sea.
The Euphrates is the Great River. It is the mightiest of the ancient world, and served as the basis of the Mesopotamian civilization. But Mesopotamia was a named given the fertile land by the Greeks; it means ‘the land between two rivers’. That second river is the Tigris; but is it really a second at all? Geograpically, it does not directly stem from the Euphrates; but the water table on which it rests, including Lake Hazar ( its’ source) is saturated by the Euphrates. But for a small turn of fate, a minor channel forming would have made it so.
I am treating the Tigris, therefore, as having the Great River as the tributary for the Tigris; this isn’t a lesson in geology or water tables. It is meant to show a spiritual principle: of how one river, Abraham, carved out a fork that became a different stream for a while, until rejoining the Great River once again. Thus, in Abraham, we find both Torah and Gospel, which are not opposed, but are two different currents, rolling towards the place where they will reunite.
This groundwork having been laid, I will take us back to the first Great Barge that traveled waters of faith, that being Noah and the Ark.