On the heels of last Sunday – Trinity Sunday – we read of a trinity in Genesis, chapter 18. Abraham was sitting outside his tent when he “saw three men standing near him.”
When we read numbers in the books of the Holy Bible, they are not happenstance and without meaning. The number three is always seen a special. The three sides of a triangle form the strongest structural shape. The triad represents all combined, such as beginning, middle, and end or past, present, and future. It is representative of heaven, earth and waters of Creation. Additionally, there are three dimensions in the real world: height, width, and depth. Thus, the Trinity means body, soul, and spirit – Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Abraham saw three men as one, which is minimally a trinity.
In the past, I have been confused by Abraham seeing three men suddenly in his midst and his willingness to make sure the three men are well served, only to have three become one voice – the voice of God. How did three become one? Were they three angels, such that no one was really there – no physical beings? If they were angels, how could they eat the feast Abraham laid out before them? Do angels eat physical food?
Perhaps I have been slow to understand; but perhaps you have also been confused as well. So, let me explain to you what I see, so you can see it also. Let me know what you think.
The three men were real human beings, who were tired from a journey that took them to Abraham’s tent. However, they did not wander upon Abraham, as the Holy Spirit was with them, guiding them there. Thus, they were three men with one Spirit. They were each a Trinity, as each was representative of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
In Numerology (a Kabbalistic art) three represents the number of initial completion. Nine (3 x 3 or 3+3+3) thus symbolizes final completion, as three threes. Abraham can then be seen as the first of three: Abraham (3), Isaac (6) and Jacob (9). Abraham also represents the origin of three paths to God: Judaic (3), Islamic (6), and Christian (9). He was the initial completion of a new line of God’s servants, after the Great Flood.
We read, “So they said, “Do as you have said;” and, “They said to him, ‘Where is your wife Sarah?” and then “and set these before them. While they ate.” The plural number pronouns (“they” and “them“) mean all three spoke with the same voice. Each spoke as God. This is the message of the Gospel reading from Matthew.
Matthew wrote how Jesus told the disciples, “As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. You received without payment; give without payment.” He then told the disciples, “Do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”
This is the same as the three who came upon Abraham and his tent. Whereas Jesus instructed his disciples, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet,” Abraham was quite welcoming. He bent over backwards for his guests, telling them, “Let me get you something to eat, so you can be refreshed and then go on your way—now that you have come to your servant.”
No need to shake any dust off the sandals there. Abraham was glad to see those three men; AND he knew that they came from God, with God, as God. Without asking them or God for help, the presence of the Trinity healed the only ailment Abraham had – he was childless. They had the same talents Jesus’ disciples had been given, but all talents of healing came from God.
The voice of God was the one who said, “I will surely return to you in due season, and your wife Sarah shall have a son.” That would be the same as one of the twelve coming by the old homestead and saying, “I will surely return your sight … or return the use of your limbs … or return your skin to an unblemished state … or return your mental state to one no longer controlled by some physical addiction (a demon).” The actions of the faithful bring out that reward from God. Those without faith get to keep all the dust they call theirs, not understanding how they just rejected the kingdom of heaven.
Remember, Jesus repeatedly said, “Go, your faith has made you well.” Abraham had that faith.
Sarah, on the other hand, laughed at the promise of giving birth at her advanced age. She was long beyond having her period, which is the sloughing off of an old egg, to be replaced by a new egg. For her, menopause had come and gone. Sarah was 89-90 years of age. She laughed because she had no more eggs within her, from which a baby could be made naturally. She had no faith in the supernatural.
Then, after God called Sarah out for having laughed, she lied to God about having laughed. For those sins, God would reduce the number of years Sarah would live, meaning that her being the mother of Isaac did not absolve her of her debts.
Abraham was the one with the same faith as had Ezekiel, when God asked that prophet if the impossible were possible – “Mortal, can these dried bones live?” Ezekiel answered, “You know.” Likewise, when God told Abraham, “Your wife Sarah shall have a son,” Abraham must have only smiled and nodded at the power of God.
“Bring it on!” he must have thought.
Now, this places focus on how Paul wrote to the Roman Jews from his jail cell in Rome, saying, “We are justified by faith.”
The word “justified” comes from the capitalized first word of verse one, “Dikaiōthentes.” The real translation says (According to the Strong’s Concordance definition of “dikaioó.”), “We are made righteous; we have defended the cause of; we have pleaded for the righteousness (innocence) of; we are acquitted, we are justified; and hence: We are regarded as righteous.”
I once tried to explain the word “justify” in terms of a Word Document. When we Americans normally write on paper, we begin at the left margin and go to the right. Those who know Hebrew also know that Hebraic text begins at the right margin and goes to the left. A “justified” text begins at the center and goes equally left and right. Thus, it is possible to read Paul as saying, “We are centered by faith.”
That explanation only works for people who know what a Word document is. So, my words left only blank stares. No one could see the Trinity of left, right, center.
“We are made righteous by faith” is a much clearer translation. We are able to see how Abraham was made righteous by faith. Jesus was made righteous by faith. Because the Spirit of the Father was speaking through the commissioned disciples, they were made righteous by faith in God and Jesus. Likewise, Paul and the Roman Jews who were Christian had been made righteous by the same faith in God and Christ.
David also had been made righteous by faith. He sang about it in Psalm 116. Verse one sets the theme, saying “I love the Lord, because he has heard the voice of my supplication, because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.”
That speaks volumes for the faith expressed by Abraham, Jesus, the disciples, Paul and his converts.
David then sang, “How shall I repay the Lord for all the good things he has done for me?”
Those of faith want to repay the Lord for all the good things they have. They don’t want to laugh at their prayers not being answered, or answered too late … in their doubtful minds.
The answer David sang, just as the words spoken by disciples and three men led by God to Abraham, was: “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the Name of the Lord.”
This is one of those things that goes over everyone’s head. Lifting up a cup of salvation sounds like raising a glass of wine during a toast. It sounds like, “Let us celebrate what we have been given, simply by using the “God” word … because we believe in God we get rewarded with things worth celebrating.”
That is not what David meant, when God spoke through David in Psalm 116.
Remember the rivers of the living water Jesus spoke of two weeks back, on Pentecost Sunday (John 7:37-39)? That is the drink (the cup) of the faithful. That living water is one’s salvation, when one morphs from a soul trapped in a mortal body, into a free soul saved from that death of mortality. Therefore, one who has drank from the living waters of Jesus Christ asks, “How shall I repay the Lord for this good thing he has done for me?”
The answer is then to pass the living waters on to others. We “lift the cup” by drinking that water, by receiving the Holy Spirit it brings. This then makes the recipient the cup and thus one who has taken on the responsibility of giving living waters to others. That means we are uplifted in being, by having taken on the Character of God (His Name).
This is just as Jesus told his disciples, “Do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; for it is not you who speaks, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.” An Apostle repays the Lord by following the instructions of Jesus Christ. He goes to the lost sheep proclaiming the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.” Those who welcome him are healed; and that is a payment made to the Lord, through servitude.
Being made righteous means lifting up one’s self as a cup filled with living water, in the name (character) of Jesus Christ and with the Name (character) of God upon that one body – three in one: body, soul, spirit; Father, Son, Holy Ghost. That is how three men, three who were “they” but suddenly became “one” voice; and that one voice was then recognized as “the Lord.”
We have now fully entered the Ordinary season, in Church terminology. The symbolism is that Christians are ordained Apostles. Beginning with the Pentecost lectionary, options become available, as far as the Old Testament and accompanying Psalm readings are concerned. These optional choices mean the Epistle and Gospel readings connect with more than just one Old Testament passage.
In a live sermon, it becomes confusing to begin referring to some reading that is not available in handout form to the congregation. Personally, I have a hard time overlooking any of the weekly Scriptures made available; and I believe Christians should pack a lunch when they come to Church, so they do not feel rushed to leave. After all, if we are going to call Sunday the Sabbath, then we need to be prepared to keep it holy all day long. Take off your coat and stay a while. Ask some questions. Make some points. Share some stories about who you came along during the past week, someone who maybe had you sit under a tree while he made you a feast.
Christianity is not the “Cliff Notes” of all religions. It is not to be laughed at, as if it is worthy of a book named Religion for Dummies, where every book of the Holy Bible can be summed up simply, for easy reference. Neither is it intended for “Secret Squirrels,” who never share their acorns with other squirrels.
To lift up the cup of salvation is to stay thirsty for enlightenment: “More sir. May I have some more?”
The optional Old Testament reading for today comes from Exodus (19:2-8a). Remember, this is along the same lines as those Scriptures already discussed (Genesis, Psalm 116, Romans, and Matthew), relative to one who has been made righteous through faith, where righteousness is one becoming the Trinity, so that other can also be so filled.
In the Exodus reading, Moses is on Mount Sinai, talking with God. God told Moses what to go tell the Israelites, whom He had just freed. He told Moses to remind them how they had seen miracles in their flight to safety. God said for Moses to tell the people, “If you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.” They will become “the kingdom of heaven on earth.”
Moses did that, and we read, “the people all answered as one: “Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.”’ Moses spoke as did Jesus to his disciples, and as did Paul to the Roman Jewish Christians. Because “they all answered as one,” they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in the Name (character) of the Lord.
They were Ordained as righteous. A holy nation can only have righteous (justified) people. Their faith had made it so.
The accompanying Psalm (100) sings out, “Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands; serve the Lord with gladness and come before his presence with a song. Know this: The Lord himself is God; he himself has made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise; give thanks to him and call upon his Name.” David said, “Be in the Character of God.”
Just as Abraham openly declared: “My lord (a singular address to three men), if I find favor with you, do not pass by your servant.” We are called upon to be servants of God, to go forth and proclaim, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.”
In our Eucharistic prayers (rite two), we hear stated and quickly respond, “The Lord be with you; and also with you. Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God. It is right to give him thanks and praise.”
Think about what you are hearing then and what you are saying in response.
You are expected to be filled with the Holy Spirit, as an Ordained Apostle, one made righteous by your faith. That ritualistic exchange of words means the Character of God is in the priest AND one with every responding voice in the congregation. Because all have drank from the cup of salvation, all have their hearts raised by God. Those words affirm their service to their master, such that all give thanks by giving God and Christ physical bodies to serve the Lord on the earthly plane.
Don’t laugh at that meaning and then lie about it.
Instead, ask “How shall I repay you Lord for this good thing he has done for me?”
Then, follow the instructions He whispers to your mind.