Children’s Study – Abraham, Part 5

Abraham – Part 5

The Lord told Abraham to offer animals to Him

by Victor Torres

Last time, we learned that Abraham was blessed by Melchizedek because “the less is blessed of the better”.

Heb 7:7 (KJV) And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.

The phrase “the less is blessed of the better” means Christ and His law is better than Moses and the law given to him in the old testament.

Joh 1:17 (ESV) For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Gal 2:16 (KJV) Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Gal 2:16 (ERV) But we know that no one is made right with God by following the law [of Moses]. It is trusting in Jesus Christ that makes a person right with God. So we have put our faith in Christ Jesus, because we wanted to be made right with God. And we are right with him because we trusted in Christ–not because we followed the law. I can say this because no one can be made right with God by following the law.

Let’s continue the story of Abraham:

Gen 15:1 After all these things happened, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision. God said, “Abram, don’t be afraid. I will defend you and give you a great reward.”
Gen 15:2 But Abram said, “Lord GOD, there is nothing you can give me that will make me happy, because I have no son. My slave Eliezer from Damascus will get everything I own after I die.”
Gen 15:3 Abram said, “You have given me no son, so a slave born in my house will get everything I have.”
Gen 15:4 Then the LORD spoke to Abram and said, “That slave will not be the one to get what you have. You will have a son who will get everything you own.”
Gen 15:5 Then God led Abram outside and said, “Look at the sky. See the many stars. There are so many you cannot count them. Your family will be like that.”
Gen 15:6 Abram believed the LORD, and because of this faith the Lord accepted him as one who has done what is right.

So now we see that Galatians 2:16 is only repeating what is said in Genesis 15:6. This is how the Old Testament and the New Testament work together. They witness to each other. The physical things that happened in the Old Testament are symbols of the spiritual truths that we see in the New Testament.

Gal 2:16 (ERV) But we know that no one is made right with God by following the law [of Moses]. It is trusting in Jesus Christ that makes a person right with God

Gen 15:6 Abram believed the LORD, and because of this faith the Lord accepted him as one who has done what is right.

We saw how Melchizedek is a symbol of Christ who brings a law that is much better than the law of Moses. This better law, Christ’s words, is symbolized by the bread and wine that Melchizedek brought out to bless Abraham.

Gen 14:18 (ESV) And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.)

Mat 26:26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.”
Mat 26:27 And he took a cup [of wine], and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you,
Mat 26:28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

When we are studying God’s words, we are spiritually eating bread and drinking wine which Christ gives us. We should not take the literal meaning of symbols in the Old Testament and do them literally today. When Abraham gave Melchizedek 10 percent of what he got from the war, it is not telling us to give 10 percent of our income to our church. It is telling us to offer our lives to God and to do everything to His glory.

The churches of this world are so blind to the spiritual meaning of events in the Old Testament that they follow them literally. Tithing is just one example of it. The Catholics offer literal bread (thin wafers) and literal wine during their mass. My former church has a yearly ritual called holy supper where they eat a small piece of unleavened bread and drink a small cup of grape juice.

The Bible tells us that following the letter will spiritually kill us, but if we follow the spiritual meaning, it will give us spiritual life.

2Co 3:6 (ESV) who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter [literally eating bread and drinking wine or grape juice] kills, but the Spirit [studying God’s words] gives life.

Let’s continue the story of Abraham:

Gen 15:7 [ERV] He said to Abram, “I am the LORD who led you from Ur of Babylonia. I did this so that I could give you this land. You will own this land.”
Gen 15:8 But Abram said, “Lord GOD, how can I be sure that I will get this land?”
Gen 15:9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer [a young female cow] three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”
Gen 15:10 Abram brought all these to God. Abram killed these animals and cut each of them into two pieces. Then he laid each half across from the other half. He did not cut the birds into two pieces.

[Q – Why didn’t Abram cut the birds in half unlike cutting the cow, the goat and the ram in half?]

By now, it should be clear to you that the Lord doesn’t want us to offer literal cows, goats and birds to Him. What He wants us to do is whatever offering these animals mean spiritually. So before we can answer why Abram didn’t cut the birds in half, let’s see what he did to all of these animals.

Gen 15:10 Abram brought all these to God. Abram killed these animals and cut each of them into two pieces…

The first thing I want you to notice is he killed all these animals. This is a symbol of giving up our life for God, to follow the example of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Joh 10:11 (ERV) “I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.

1Jn 3:16 (CEV) We know what love is because Jesus gave his life for us. That’s why we must give our lives for each other.

The second thing I want you to notice is that the number three is mentioned a lot in this offering.

Gen 15:9 He said to him, “Bring me a heifer three years old, a female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”

There’s another three there that is not so obvious. It is the three groups of animals, which can be offered to the Lord:

1) Animals of the herd: the heifer

Lev 1:3 (BBE) If the offering is a burned offering of the herd, let him give a male without a mark: he is to give it at the door of the Tent of meeting so that he may be pleasing to the Lord.

2) Animals of the flock: the female goat and the ram

Lev 1:10 (BBE) And if his offering is of the flock, a burned offering of sheep or goats, let him give a male without a mark.

3) Animals of the fowl: the turtledove and the young pigeon

Lev 1:14 And if his offering to the Lord is a burned offering of birds, then he is to make his offering of doves or of young pigeons.

We have learned from previous studies that the number three is a symbol of process. A process is a series of steps that is taken to achieve a goal.

These three groups of animals which can be offered to the Lord are types or symbols of the process of maturing our faith and our understanding of God’s word.

The goal is to have a faith and understanding like Jesus Christ:

Eph 4:13 And this until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

But everyone, including Christ Himself, starts with an immature understanding. The offering of birds is a symbol of an immature faith and understanding that we all start with. Look at what was offered when Mary’s days of purification were fulfilled.

Luk 2:21 And when eight days were fulfilled to circumcise the child, His name was called JESUS, the name called by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
Luk 2:22 And when the days of her purification according to the Law of Moses were fulfilled, they brought Him to Jerusalem, to present Him to the Lord
Luk 2:23 (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord)
Luk 2:24 and to offer a sacrifice according to that said in the Law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.

Did you catch that? Jesus was circumcised when He was eight days old. His parents followed the law of Moses, including sacrificing a pair of birds. Didn’t we just see above that no one is made right with God by following the law of Moses?

Gal 2:16 (ERV) But we know that no one is made right with God by following the law [of Moses]. It is trusting in Jesus Christ that makes a person right with God

This is because what Paul said in Galatians wasn’t revealed to Christ and His parents yet at that time. Jesus was just a baby, and His parents were followers of the law of Moses.

Luk 2:42 (MKJV) And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the Feast [they were still following the law of Moses].
Luk 2:43 And fulfilling the days, as they returned, the boy Jesus stayed in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know.
Luk 2:44 But they, supposing Him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey. And they looked for Him among the kinsfolk and acquaintances.
Luk 2:45 And when they did not find Him, they turned back to Jerusalem, seeking Him.
Luk 2:46 And it happened that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both hearing them and questioning them.
Luk 2:47 And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.
Luk 2:48 And seeing Him, they were amazed. And His mother said to Him, Child, why have you done so to us? Behold, your father and I have looked for you, greatly distressed.
Luk 2:49 And He said to them, Why did you look for Me? Do you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?
Luk 2:50 And they did not understand the word which He spoke to them.
Luk 2:51 And He went with them and came to Nazareth, and He was subject to them. But His mother kept all these sayings in her heart.

Our 12 year-old Lord was subject to His parents who followed the law of Moses. Even when we see Him questioning the teachers in those days, “and all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers”, He still was not ready to start teaching God’s words. He still need to increase in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

Luk 2:52 (MKJV) And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

Luk 2:52 (GW) Jesus grew in wisdom and maturity. He gained favor from God and people.

That is why Abraham didn’t cut those birds in half, or into two pieces. Two is the number for witness. We are not a good witness yet when we have an immature faith, and we only have a basic understanding of the words of God.

We need to be patient with ourselves and with others as we all go through this process of learning about Him. We need to learn how to crawl first before we can walk, we need to learn how to walk first before we can run. We all need to drink milk when we were babies, then when we get older, we start on mashed fruits and vegetables and when we are old enough, we can finally eat meat.

Like our Lord, we all need to grow in wisdom and maturity first before we can begin to teach others.

When God sees that you’re ready to receive more, then He will increase your faith and understanding. Christ did not begin teaching until He was about thirty years old.

Mat 3:16 (ESV) And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;

The “heavens were opened to him” means His understanding of God’s words increased tremendously. This is the time that we are ready to teach others and to be a good witness to others (a sacrifice that is cut in two pieces).

Even Christ’s apostles didn’t mature right away. When our Lord was still alive, we see them doing immature things like quarreling over who will be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

The Lord had to explain the parables to them as they pretend to understand them. The Lord didn’t teach everything that they need to learn when He was still with them because they were not ready yet:

Joh 16:12 (KJV) I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

Joh 16:12 (GW) “I have a lot more to tell you, but that would be too much for you now.”

One of the truths that they could not bear yet back then was that the law of Moses will not be the means of saving people. The holy spirit has to reveal this truth to them little by little, because they cannot bear the full truth yet. It would be like feeding meat to a baby; they would choke on it.

At the early stages of the church, the Jews were still following the law of Moses and they also wanted the Gentiles (those who are not Jews) to follow it.

Act 15:1 [ERV] Then some men came to Antioch from Judea and began teaching the non-Jewish believers: “You cannot be saved if you are not circumcised as Moses taught us.”

But Paul and Barnabas did not agree with this teaching so they talked to the apostles and elders about this issue:

Act 15:2 Paul and Barnabas were against this teaching and argued with these men about it. So the group decided to send Paul, Barnabas, and some others to Jerusalem to talk more about this with the apostles and elders.

After their meeting in Jerusalem, this is what they agreed on, with the consent of the holy spirit:

Act 15:28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay on you [the Gentiles] no greater burden than these requirements:
Act 15:29 that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

So that’s what they agreed upon after meeting with the apostles and elders, to have the Jews continue to follow the law of Moses, including circumcision, but the Gentiles don’t have to except for these: (1) don’t eat things sacrificed to idols, (2) don’t eat animal’s blood or strangled animals (because the blood hasn’t been drained) and (3) and do not commit fornication or sexual immorality.

They agreed that the Gentiles can eat pork, crabs and shrimp, all forbidden under the law of Moses, but they cannot eat things sacrificed to idols, animal blood or strangled animals. So they had one set of laws for the Jews and another set of laws for the Gentiles.

At this point, Paul and the apostles and elders were not able to bear this truth yet:

Rom 14:14 (KJV) I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean.

Rom 14:14 (ERV) I know that there is no food that is wrong to eat [including animal blood or strangled animals]. The Lord Jesus is the one who convinced me of that. But if someone believes that something is wrong, then it is wrong for that person.

The book of Romans was written by Paul, so now we see that later in his life, Paul was given the mature understanding that the Lord had regarding food when He said these:

Mat 15:10 (ERV) Jesus called the people to him. He said, “Listen and understand what I am saying.
Mat 15:11 It is not what people put in their mouth that makes them wrong. It is what comes out of their mouth that makes them wrong.”

How about food offered to idols? Paul, who signed that letter to the Gentiles telling them not to eat food offered to idols, later understood that an idol is nothing in the world.

1Co 8:4 Then concerning the eating of the things sacrificed to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God except one.

In chapter 8 of 1 Corinthians, Paul is telling the more mature Christians that they can now eat even the things offered to idols, as long as there are no brothers present who have weak faith who will think offering food to idols is okay.

1Co 8:5 For though there are those who are called gods, whether in Heaven or in earth (as there are many gods and many lords),
1Co 8:6 but there is to us only one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we by Him.
1Co 8:7 But this knowledge is not in all [Paul is saying that this mature knowledge is not yet given to all]. But some being aware of the idol eat as an idolatrous sacrifice until now, and their conscience being weak is defiled [eating or doing something not in faith is sin].

I hope I have shown you that the Lord Himself had to mature before God could use Him to lead His apostles. I hope that I have also shown you that the apostles started as immature followers when Christ was with them. Even after being given the holy spirit, and they were the ones leading the new converts to Christianity, they still had some maturing to go through. They still had to learn that having two sets of rules for Jews and Gentiles violates the unity of the faith that we should have under our one Lord, Jesus Christ. There is one body, one spirit, one Lord and one faith.

Eph 4:4 (MKJV) There is one body and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling,
Eph 4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,

The spiritual meaning of the three groups of animals that Abraham sacrificed to God is to offer our life to Him no matter what level of maturity or understanding we currently have. Abraham was told to offer these animals as an answer to this question:

Gen 15:8 (ERV) But Abram said, “Lord GOD, how can I be sure that I will get this land?”

This is like asking God, “How can I be sure that you will complete what you have began in me?” This is His answer to us:

Php 1:6 (ESV) And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Dear children, until you are mature enough to teach the Bible yourself, I encourage you to continue to listen to these Bible studies. That is the reason why God gave some in the body to be apostles and prophets and teachers.

Eph 4:11 (KJV) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
Eph 4:12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Eph 4:13 (CEV) This will continue [setting some to be apostles, pastors and teachers] until we are united by our faith and by our understanding of the Son of God. Then we will be mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him.

Next time, Lord willing, we will continue to study the story of Abraham, and we will continue to mature in our understanding of God and Jesus Christ.