Primitive Christianity Revived, Again
Genesis 14 - There is a war in the region between the kings of Shinar (Amraphel), Ellasar (Arioch), Elam (Chedorlaomer) and Goiim (Tidal) and the kings of Sodom , Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim and Bela.
The first league of kings is victorious and in seizing the possession and food supplies of Sodom and Gomorrah, they sweep up Abram’s nephew Lot and all he owns. Abram then goes and with 318 of his retainers, he recaptures Lot and his possessions and brings them back.
When he returns, not only does the king of Sodom greet him, but a King by the name of Melchizedek, King of Salem (Jerusalem), greets him as well. Melchizedek is a priest of “the Most High God,” (our God, the God of Abram) and he gives Abram offerings of bread and wine (14:18-20). In return Abram givens him a tenth of all “he had recovered” (14:21). The king of Sodom offers to let Abram keep all the possessions of his he recaptured, but Abram refuses, not wanting to be beholden to him. He accepts “only what my young warriors have already eaten, and I request that you give a fair share of the goods to my allies” (14:24).
Here is a link to a map that plots the route Abram and his family took from Ur to Canaan:
Genesis 15 – God’s word comes to Abram again and takes him out to see the stars of the sky. And God promises in words similar to those later given to Moses—“’I am YHWH who brought you out of [Ur] to give you this land . . . (15:7), and I will make [your] Abram’s descendants as many as the stars’” (15:5). That Abram has faith (or trusts) in God’s promises is “credited . . .to him as an act of righteousness” (15:6).
Then God repeats the covenant, and solemnizes the occasion by having Abram offer a heifer, a she-goat, a ram (all age 3), a turtle-dove and a pigeon. Each of the first three is split in two and Abram guards them all day. In the evening, Abraham falls into a trance and “a deep, terrifying darkness envelope[s] him” (15:12). God reveals to Abram that his descendants shall suffer a period of slavery before He delivers them.
When it is dark, a “smoking brazier and a flaming torch” (15:17) pass between the severed pieces of animal and the covenant is concluded with respect to the lands God intends to confer on Abram’s line.
It is important to remember here that Abram still has not even one blood descendant. How could he have trusted this God? But his stubborn and resilient trust (faith plus reliance) “justifies” him in God’s eyes.
First Epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians (96 AD)
Section 56 – Let us “plead for those who have fallen from grace, that they may be given the unselfishness and the humility to surrender themselves, not indeed to us, but to the will of God” (45). The formal leaders of the church, the consecrated, do not seek authority to inflate themselves but rather that the will of God may be more faithfully transmitted to his flock.
“O my friends, do let us accept correction; it is something nobody ought to resent. Mutual admonition is wholly good and beneficial, for it leads us into conformity with the will of God” (46). Everyone must learn to accept correction – the men at the top, the critics of the men at the top – everyone.
“Reject not the admonitions of the Almighty, for though he inflicts pain, yet afterwards he makes whole again; he wounds, but his hands bring healing” (46).
Section 57 – “Those of you, then, who were at the root of these disorders, pray mow make your submission to the clergy. Bend the knees of your hearts and accept correction, so that it may bring you to a better frame of mind. Lean to subordinate yourselves; curb those loud and overbearing speeches. It will be better for you to be lowly but respected members of Christ’s flock, than to be apparently enjoying positions of eminence but in fact to be cast out from every hope of Him” (46).
He quotes from the book of Proverbs or Wisdom: See now, I am going to put before you the utterance of my Spirit, and teach you my word. Because I called you and you would not listen, because I uttered my words and you would not attend, but made light of my counsels and refused to heed my reproofs, therefore I will smile at your destruction” (46).
Section 58 – Let us be obedient to “His all-holy and glorious Name” and “dwell in trustful reliance on the most sacred Name of His majesty” (47). “As surely as God lives, as Jesus Christ lives, and the Holy Ghost also (on whom are set the faith and hope of God’s elect), so surely the man who keeps the divinely appointed decrees and statues with humility and an unfailing consideration for others, and never looks back, will be enrolled in honor among the number of those who are saved through Jesus Christ, by whom is God glorified for ever” (47).
Section 59 – “But if there are any who refuse to heed the declarations He has made through our lips, let them not doubt the gravity of the guilt and the peril in which they involve themselves” (47).
“For our part . . .we will entreat the Creator of all things with heartfelt prayer and supplication that the full sum of His elect, as it has been numbered throughout the world, may ever be preserved intact through His beloved Son Jesus Christ, by whom He has called us out of darkness to light, and from ignorance to the clear knowledge of the glory of His name” (47).
“[Teach us, O Lord] . . . to hope in thy Name, which us the source and fount of all creation. Open the eyes of our hearts to know thee, who alone art Highest amid the highest, and ever abidest Holy amidst the holy. Thou does bring down the haughtiness of the proud, and scatterest the devices of the people . . .” (47-48).
Section 60 – “Lord, by thine operations didst [thou] bring to light the everlasting fabric of the universe” (48).
“Wisely has thou created, prudently hast thou established, all things that are. To look around is to see thy goodness; to trust in thee is to know thy loving kindness. O most Merciful, O most Pitiful, absolve us from our sins and offences, from our errors and our shortcomings” (48).
“Deliver us from such as hate us without a cause; to us and all mankind grant peace and concord, even as thou didst to our forefathers when they called devoutly upon thee in faith and truth; and make us to be obedient both to thine own almighty and glorious Name and to all who have the rule and governance over us upon earth” (48).