My Take on The 400 Year Promise (Gen. 15:13-14) Inspired Post
Inspired by the, American Evolution Virginia to America | 1619-2019, Faith Journeys in the Black Experience: 1619-2019, March 20-21, 2019, conference held at Claude G. Perkins Living and Learning Center Virginia Union University. I took a lot of information in this week on the 400 years beliefs. I was reminded where we’ve come from as a people, and I challenged myself to think critically about where we should be headed. In every rhetoric filled conference I’ve ever attended and - or - photographed — whether it’s at a church, college, or community event, it’s been fearfully the same. Rhetoric, debates, religious superiority. More looking backwards than looking forward.
I have to believe that when God told Lot in Genesis 19, not to look back when he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, lest you turn into a pillar of salt, he was teaching us a lesson in progress. The last will fill you with seasoning, flavor, salt to taste the emotions and bitterness of what was but looking at it for too long will only result in you perishing. I won’t preface this with saying I love my older people but...I’ll just say I love my elders. They’ve lived, suffered, and grown old, but not insignificant, and it is the responsibility of my generation to listen to them, learn from them, and then attempt to do things differently and better. God got it wrong a few times before getting it right. What I’m saying is we all have a lot to learn from each other.
I left today’s conference self-reflecting on what I want as a black, 32, female, entrepreneur, faith filled person. I don’t believe any adult wants to be told what to want. I don’t. So after having leaders almost twice my age share what they thought I should want I had to begin that conversation within. It’s the same conversation I’ve been having with myself all week. Maybe most of my life even. We have to know what we want, I thought.
Reconciliation came up a lot today. Leaders alluded to achieving what would be a therapeutic apology for slavery. Reparations and atonement never came up. Maybe because as a people we don’t know what we want, therefore we can’t demand what’s rightfully ours. Maybe we do and don’t know how to go about getting it peacefully. Maybe even still, despite our anger and frustration, we don’t believe we deserve it.
I’m hear to share with you what I learned from God today on my way home from this three day conference. I was reminded by the Holy Spirit, that when you sinned in the Old Testament, God required you to confess (yes) and pay (reconcile) the price for those sins. Whether it was with a goat, turtle, dove, bull, lamb. Something you valued had to be sacrificed. Not just a “my bad it won’t happen again”. It had to be reconciled. Well.... This is what I have to believe gave the Catholics their wealth and religious power, to enslave us, to begin with. People “paying their pennants” to reconcile with God.
What starts out good and from God somehow always gets distorted into something else. From this discussion and others I’ve held in private among friends, I’ve discerned a lot. People have been mis-taught, or self-taught through experience, and stopped learning when they got to an “Exodus” in their life. In other words when things got better they decided they’d rather complain and contemplate or what they wanted, versus obey God, trust God, and get what he promised them. Well...
I have to believe the Indigenous people of every tribe, nation, and country overthrown wants the same. I even include the earliest settlers who came to this country 400 years ago. They must’ve wanted freedom from tyrants, religious oppression, racial and economic oppression, gender bias, misogyny, rape. They must’ve wanted to be free — too.
Then came the onslaught of additional internal questions. Do the powers to be want me to have these things? Does God? Yes. He tells me all through the scripture that I have dominion over ALL things, I’m made in his image, I’ve entrusted you with the entirety of all of my creation — given freely. I didn’t have to pay for it. He gave the land to Abraham and it’s God’s to give to anyone whom he sees fit. The cynical question arose, maybe I’m not asking myself the right question. Do they (the powers to be, those who think they own and have to pay for the provision ) want me to have those things? Or does greed and the lust for power govern them, like I allow my God to govern me. Well...
All in all we actually “mutually agreed” on a lot today and collectively came out enriched, and maybe even wiser for it in the end. The end, right? Not. Later after I came home God began to deal with me on the lessons he had recently taught me earlier this week. I realized now that I was wrong. I also realized I had more to add to the conversation. Much more, and so here we are.
I remembered again, that in the Old Testament, God requested an atonement for sin, and although in Leviticus 26:40 where it tells us, "'But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors--their unfaithfulness and their hostility toward me, which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies--then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.
It saddens me not one preacher, politician, or achieved scholar mentioned this scripture, except for me, in the past 3 days of revisiting our nations history. This is what the 400 year reference, in the Bible, in Genesis 15:13-14, that God prophesied to Abraham, is all about. Are we teaching the real unadulterated truth, exchanging knowledge, or yet again are we ignorantly pushing our own self-conceived agenda and keeping God out of it? Sincere yes. Foolish, yes also.
This obviously won’t let me alone. It’s 3 A.M. and I’m up wrestling with this word. What we want for ourselves or for others doesn’t matter, and especially not to God. How we think things should be done doesn’t matter either. What matters is what God wants his people to have. God already dealt with me on this lesson earlier this week. “We Are Not Our Own”. It’s throughout the entire Bible. What God wants governs us. Not us, which is why I have to believe he didn’t want us to eat from the Tree of Knowledge in the first place.
The more knowledge we obtain the smarter we think we are. But are we wiser? No. Are we smarter than or smart as the Almighty one? No. We sure like to think we are. He shows us in every scenario in the Bible what man’s imagination can do, how to govern ourselves in accordance to his laws, and has shown us time and time again what happens when we do not, and it’s mostly evil and self-serving results/fruitfulness as the outcome.
What I’m saying is this, my wants, desires, needs etc., don’t matter to me anymore. I trust God. I repent daily, and even now because I got it wrong. If I could add anything to my remarks from earlier it would be to tell the scholars and political and social leaders in that room, and myself, to ask God what he wants for America, and for the people therein.
We may not like it. We may not agree with it. But it is imperative that we ask God, “What do you want from my life, my community, my school, my church, my country, etc., and what can I do to please you”. Then like it or not accept it. (Matthew 6:33) But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. If you want to do what’s right REPENT and then seek GOD’s instruction.
Matt 6:33 is the scripture that my spiritual leaders gave me before my own deliverance. Merely words (THE WORD) that had the power to forever change my life. Now, I give it to others religiously. PRAY ABOUT EVERYTHING BEFORE YOU DO IT. — and be sure the spirit in which you send your prayers is with a clean and (circumcised) holy heart.
Leaders are elected to react and respond to the needs of people. Not to employ their own agenda. Prophets are chosen by God to relay what God has commissioned them to do — for the people, in God we trust. Not promote their gifts for gain. If Britain had stopped and asked the indigenous people, of whom I refuse to call Indians or Native Americans, what they wanted, or the Africans what they wanted, I’m certain we wouldn’t be here, but here we are. Would anyone volunteer to be brutalized, stripped of their home, raped, killed, murdered, abused. Etc.? Not me.
I would if there was a promise of better for my children. I would endure all sorts of evils if it meant it would make the world better for them. I would if God himself told me to. Do you have that type of obedience? I do. This is why so many loved the story of Yeshua. The sacrifice. He didn’t volunteer his life, he was chosen to be sacrificed, but he was still man. He could’ve out-willed God but he didn’t.
That’s why I love his story. Obedience. Selflessness. Self-constraint. Wisdom from God. What’s not to love and learn from? And if there’s anything you want to know about life, success, prosperity etc. it can be found in serving the way he did. He did however volunteer to die according to his beliefs. Are you willing to die for yours? I am and he didn’t have to kill a single soul to be the most popular and powerful being that ever lived. Have we achieved that? No. So we still have a lot to learn from him, and others like him. He spoke about his death. He prophesied to his disciples on it, and he taught us all that our life is not our own, it’s our creators.
The same spirit no matter if I call it Yeshua, Jesus, Holy...is in us all, whether we believe God put it there or not. The determination to live free and create the life we want is the will of God within us all, but with only that, we limit ourselves and our creators ability to create the beauty, security, and provision for all that we all want. Yet somehow despite our foolishness and disobedience he majestically (not magically) has and I believe will continue to.
Wisdom of God is knowing the importance of discovering who our creator is. When we diminish our own significance, we can then see just how significant we are in God’s eyes. You’d think those closer to the grave would somehow grow wiser, some are, yet some are not. I see all colors of people and their religious beliefs, as my brother and sisters, in this journey of discovering spiritual truth, and I’m really looking forward to this next chapter in my life.
I’m sure it will be filled with a lot of exploration, creation, and the sharing of my ideals, intellect, and appreciation for it all.
Sketch by: Jeromyah Jones (Visual Historian)