Blessings to you all from Bellingham during this wonderful season called summer. It is a little cooler here in the Northwest, but it is green and beautiful as the summers are here. It is good to be home ready for another week of teaching, training, development, and relationship. Bonnie and I had a great time yesterday at Everyone’s Church in Mt. Vernon, Washington. Thank you Pastor Brice and the congregation there.
I have been addressing a topic of honor in the church and honor as members of the community of Christ in the earth. Exodus chapter 20 reveals what we believe to be Ten Commandments. When we view God as a Sovereign ruler we often misunderstand His words to us. When we see Him as our Father we understand Him more clearly. The Israelites interpreted that God gave them Ten Commandments, but I believe that God never desired to merely give Ten Commandments. God’s desire was that the earth would be freed from every curse. God’s desire was that the children of God would become the testimony of Him in the earth. I propose that the Ten Commandments are not commandments. I believe they are attributes of a culture of honor. They are the attributes of values found in the character, nature, and way of the family of God. They are the attributes of what it looks like when the father’s hearts are for the children and the children’s hearts are for the fathers. In these commandments God began by speaking these words:
Exodus 20:2-3 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.”
God brought us out of darkness, out of sin, and the house of bondage. He brought us out of sin and the strongholds that held us to that sin. He is the Lord our God, we shall have no other God’s before Him. We could look at this as a commandment, but if we look at this as a commandment we become bound as slaves and we view God no differently then we view Egyptian taskmasters. These words spoken by God are not words intended for us to exchange one slave master for another. I believe that these words reveal the first secret of living in a culture of honor. Honor is recognizing who someone else is and giving an expression to them that confirms who they are. That expression should include our attention, our affection, and our time. This culture of honor begins with our honor for who God is in our lives. We cannot confirm who another is unless we first confirm who their Creator is. We cannot confirm who another is unless we first confirm who their Savior is. We cannot look at another human without looking at God first. If we look at someone else without looking at who God is in their lives, we will look at them according to their bondages. We will make a judgment of them according to their flaws. We will judge them according to the flesh. This same measure is true for how we behold ourselves. Before we can look at someone else, or even ourselves, and make a proper assessment of who they or we are, we must first look at who God is in our lives as the children of humanity. God brings us out of darkness. He brings us out of bondage. He brings us out of the things that put us in bondage. There is no situation that is unredeemable. We cannot make a judgment of another human being according to the flesh if we make a proper assessment of whom God is for the life of every human soul.
So God joins us together in a family, just as He did in the very first family in the beginning of creation. In the first family, Adam and Eve had a baby named Cain and then Cain got a little brother named Abel. The younger brother received a revelation of who God was. He began to act honorably. Abel gave God offerings, as did Cain, but God only respected the offerings of Abel .
Genesis 4:1-5 Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, “I have acquired a man from the Lord.” Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.
The offerings of Cain were not the honor due to God. Cain’s offerings lacked the spirit of honor that was found in the offerings of Abel. Cain didn’t have an offering problem, he had an honor problem. His obvious discouragement when God did not respect His offering reveals that he was giving to get something from Him. He was slow to give because he loved his offering more than he did God. It is the spirit of an offering that makes it what it is. Abel gave offerings of the first; when he had his first lamb in his flock, he gave it to God. His offering was also the best; when he had many sheep he picked the best one and gave it to God. God does not need the first or the best. Abel’s offering to God was not something given to God for God’s sake. It was something given to God for man’s sake. Abel, a human being, needed to recognize whom God was. He recognized that God was the first and God was the best. There was no commandment. There was only a revelation of honor. He recognized that God was the first and God was the best. It was therefore easy to give God the first and the best because he understood in His heart who God was. Because He saw who God really was it was easy for Him to give offerings that were expressions of who God was. God honored Abel because Abel’s offerings were ones of honor to God. God was in awe of what Able did. He respected His offering. He recognized who Abel was. He saw Abel as a child of God. The heart of the Father was for the son, because the heart of the son was clearly for the Father. There was no control. There was simply a recognizing of who God was by Abel. The son realized: ‘The Father makes me free!” “The Father sets me at liberty!” “He is first and He is the best!” The actions of Abel’s life were simply confessions of who God was to him. The things that Abel did were confessions of who God was in his life. It was easy for God to look at Abel and make confessions of whom he was. God’s respect was that of a father for a son who had come to a revelation of honor in his heart towards his father.
Cain was the firstborn son and he should have had the revelation that Abel did, but he failed because he didn’t see who God really was. I will address this in next week’s blog. Consider who God is in your life. He is the first and the best! He brings you freedom, salvation, and liberty. He gives you life, breath, and all things! Recognizing Him for who He really is empowers us to be who we should be in this life.
Ted J. Hanson