Cinnamon whiskey

INTRODUCTION. A reflection on the emptiness of external satisfactions.

I noticed the object as I walked toward the coffee shop. From my own ill-spent youth, I recognized the object and knew its use. An empty liquor bottle, “Cinnamon Whiskey” by name, had been tossed beside the shrubs, its contents drained in the vain hope that ingesting mild poison would produce good results. I imagined the drunk who consumed the whiskey and hoped it was not some seventeen year-old trying to find meaning in a liquor bottle, not someone like me who believed that joy and hope and peace and purpose came from the outside and went in. For if purpose and joy came from the outside and went in, surely my teen years would certainly have been joyful.

But the sad reality is that there is no joy or hope or peace or purpose available from anything outside you and me, for these must come from within us. So, cinnamon whiskey going from outside me to inside me cannot change my inner joylessness. The contents of a bottle poured down my throat cannot affect my inner ocean of hopelessness. It is a lie to think that anything external to me can fundamentally change me and turn my darkness into light and my chaos into peace.

But then the question becomes, “What or who CAN change me?” If within my heart and soul is a contamination that produces an existence without joy or hope or peace, and I am unable to change myself, should I not accept abject despair as the logical response? “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from this body of death?”

The Bible answers this question with “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25). There is only one answer for all of man’s questions about joy or purpose, about hope and peace, and that one answer is Jesus Christ. When all the cinnamon whiskey bottles have been drained and tossed as useless upon the garbage heap of external satisfactions, Jesus Christ will remain as King of kings and as the only satisfaction for all of our deepest longings. Only Jesus Christ can give joy and hope and peace and purpose to satisfy man’s sin-sick soul. All of these and much more are given without measure to all those who know Jesus as Lord and Savior. “For as many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes” (2 Cor. 1:20).

So, as I glanced down at the cinnamon whiskey bottle under the shrubs, I remembered with shame and pain the wasted years of my own “whiskey bottles.” But then I rejoiced that one day, for me, there was a final bottle. One day thirty years ago I met Jesus Christ and bowed my knee to Him as my Lord and Savior. At that moment, my search was over. No longer did I seek satisfaction via whiskey bottles, via any external means, for Jesus had filled me with His joy and with the hope of the resurrection and with the peace that passes understanding and with the purpose of being His ambassador to the ends of the earth. Let Jesus Christ be praised!

SDG                 rmb                 5/30/2022                   #537

Because of the covenant (Genesis 18 and 19) – Part 2

But because there was a covenant . . .

Post #452 on November 5 began a study of the LORD’s covenant with Abraham from Genesis 15-19. This post will continue that study as we look deeper into the covenant and its effects on the events surrounding the destruction of Sodom in Genesis 19.

A REVIEW OF ABRAHAM’S COVENANT

Before we move on to Genesis 19, however, I want to review some of the key points we have already learned in our study and reveal their significance.

First, we saw that Abraham “believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Abraham expresses his faith in the LORD, and by his faith he is declared righteous.

Next, we see that, after Abraham expresses his faith, on the basis of a blood sacrifice, the LORD made a covenant with Abraham (Gen. 15:18-21).

Thus, by the end of Genesis 15, based on his faith, Abraham has received a covenant with the LORD that has been sealed by the blood of a sacrifice.

ABRAHAN’S COVENANT FORESHADOWS OUR NEW COVENANT

An examination of Abraham’s covenant reveals that it pictures for us the new covenant that believers have with the Lord Jesus Christ. For just as the LORD’s covenant with Abraham began when Abraham believed in the LORD, so our covenant of salvation begins when we believe in the Lord Jesus. Just as Abraham’s covenant with the LORD was sealed and ratified by blood sacrifice, so the new covenant is established on the basis of Christ’s shed blood on the cross. And just as Abraham was the passive recipient of the promises contained in his covenant with the LORD, so we, by faith, are the recipients of all the promises given in Christ. “For all the promises of God find their ‘Yes’ in Him (Christ)” (2 Cor. 1:20).

So, because there is a new covenant . . .

. . . we who believe in Christ receive all the promises of God.

Reading on, in Genesis 17, the LORD appeared to Abraham (17:1) to establish the terms and conditions of the covenant that He had made with Abraham in Genesis 15:12-21. It is clear that the purpose of the LORD’s appearing to Abraham was to establish His covenant since the word “covenant” is used eleven times in this chapter. Abraham is commanded to circumcise all males in his household as a sign of the covenant between him and the LORD (17:11). Also, in Genesis 17:16, 19, and 21 the LORD promises Abraham that Sarah shall bear him a son. His son shall be named Isaac and he will be born “at this season next year” (17:21).

We have now caught up to where we were before with the previous post (#452) in Genesis 18. What can we say about the relationship between the LORD and Abraham?

Because there was a covenant . . .

. . . there is peace between Abraham and the LORD. Even though the LORD has come down to render judgment on Sodom, the LORD and Abraham enjoy a fellowship meal. Because the LORD has established His covenant with him, Abraham has no reason to fear. The “Judge of all the earth” (18:25) is standing before him, yet Abraham enjoys pleasant communion with the LORD and His angels.

In the same way, . . .

. . . because there is a new covenant . . .

. . . those who believe in Jesus “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). On the night that He was betrayed, Jesus gave His disciples the Lord’s Supper, which is a fellowship meal that those who follow Jesus enjoy together as we “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:27). We know that there is coming a day when the Lord Jesus will come from heaven to judge the living and the dead, but we have no fear of that day because Jesus has paid for our sins on the cross and He has become a propitiation for our sins to forever quench the wrath of God against us. ‘There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). So, because there is the new covenant, we do not fear the Judge, but eagerly await Him (Hebrews 9:28).

There is a very serious reason why the LORD has come down to visit Abraham.

THE IMPENDING DESTRUCTION OF SODOM

The LORD has determined to destroy the city of Sodom because “their sin is exceedingly grave” (18:20). The two angels (19:1) have come down with the LORD for the purpose of destroying that wicked city. There is only one problem: Abraham’s nephew, Lot, is living in Sodom. If Sodom is destroyed, Lot will be destroyed along with the city. And now Abraham has a covenant with the LORD complete with fellowship and divine promises. How will the LORD’s covenant with Abraham affect this situation with Lot and the judgment of Sodom?

That will be the subject of our next post.

SDG                 rmb                 11/15/2021                 #455