Prosperity, Eternity (12): Bosoms: Abraham’s Two, Ours and God’s
By Eferovo Igho
“And it came to pass, that the beggar died and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried” – Luke 16:22. Many, of course, know this scripture. And many would agree that Abraham had this compartment of Hades named after him because he is the father of faith and that he was actually there in person, perhaps, as its chief figure.
But I suppose that there is an additional reason why Abraham was so honored in this way. Some may not even know that bosom means human breast especially a woman’s breast or chest; or even the heart of the man or woman, the seat of emotion, and especially for our purpose home of unfeigned love, strong affection, sincerest feelings, compassionate disposition and from where all true missions of mercy starts. Some may not even know that bosom also means closeness in friendship, as in ‘bosom friend’, ‘bosom buddy’ etc. Abraham had a bosom. He had breasts that reaches out; a heart that yearns to succor and bless! He was a bosom friend to all of God’s people and vice versa.
What does the woman breast do? What is the function of the heart? Before we throw light on the obvious we want to say that there is a sense the ‘heart’ is called ‘breast’ and vice versa in our English dictionaries, but that is not our purpose presently. The relationship between a woman’s breast and milk and the survival of her young is known to all just as the relationship between the heart and blood to the upkeep of our bodies. The breast gives and supply milk, the heart circulates and distributes blood! That is bosom!
It is in the light of the above we may say a man’s bosom means that place others find themselves when they are embraced and circled around with hands of love; a cradle or place of rest, tranquility and succor and place of refuge and security that multitude love resorting to and wishing to abide. If not ‘bosom’ may not literally translates so. They are extended meanings of ‘bosom’; they are what bosom translates to in practical terms. And how instructive they are! And let’s point out quickly that this must remind us of the embrace awaiting us in Heaven, which we shall see later is also called bosom of God or of the Father. We are talking about Abraham, and to him we must return. Let us see how he played out the ‘breast’ and ‘heart’ meaning of ‘bosom’ and or its extended and practical meaning while he lived here on earth.
Abraham’s men of War plus
“And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan … And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother lot, and his goods, and the women also, and people” – Genesis 14:14-16.
POINT ONE: Abraham trained 318 servants. Born in his home and bred up by him, they were man enough for battle. POINT TWO: The number stated here is the number trained for war, implying that there are others born and bred up, but not necessarily for war e.g. other men and especially women, and then children not up to the age of war. You may be at liberty or free to give your own estimate of people “in Abraham’s bosom”, while on earth; people sucking “milk” and drawing “blood” from Abraham for life and sustenance! POINT THREE: Because of Abraham’s bosom, breast or heart the battle of the day was won.
Now, supposing Abraham’s bosom, breast or heart does not flow? How many are under our care and man enough for battle due to our ministry of comfort? He that is faithful in little shall be in charge of much as the scriptures say. So, do not wonder that the compartment of Hades was also named Abraham’s bosom! Abraham’s spirit of giving and sharing was overwhelming.
He was, if you will, a bosom friend to all in the faith. His heart and bosom draws to them all. Abraham had bosom friends beyond these; his heart was drawn even to angels. Remember that Abraham entertained angels, and even God, perhaps unawares! We rightly call him the father of faith. Let’s do likewise: Let our bosoms come alive. If Abraham had bosom and that place or compartment of Hades is called Abraham Bosom is it really thinkable that we would get there if we have no bosom, and it does not matter whether we are born again, for the rich man who went to the other side of torment was actually Abraham’s son by the Old Testament standard.
A Chip off the Old Block
And remember that Abraham it was who sought for a city that has foundations, Whose Builder and Maker is God (Hebrews 11: 10). Can we seek for that city very unlike Abraham and get there? He laid treasures there and so his heart was there. Can we do it otherwise? He could see his God from afar. Abraham had bosom and he is the father of faith; and so let it be like father like son, a chip off the old block! Let us learn from our father of faith. ‘Faith of our fathers living still’! We have no alternative.
The Scriptures put it in figure of speech this way: “Hearken to Me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you: for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him” – Isaiah 51:1-2. There are many things to look unto Abraham for, including this one. God called Abraham alone, but his end is overwhelmingly astonishing. Abraham had bosom and there was nothing he could not spare for God and His people. God called him alone, blessed him, and increased him. But Abraham knew all through that these blessings and increment are his for God and His purpose, and would spare nothing, not even Isaac, his specially promised son by God.
If Isaac, then what will Abraham not give or let go because of God? We all can still remember the very rare story of how the older man told his younger nephew to choose the portion of land he wishes to take so that there should be peace. Too great a lesson we must see how Abraham puts it: “And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left. And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other” – Genesis 13:8-11.
Of course, we know that the well-watered plain of Jordan with all the flourishing fields of Sodom and Gomorrah were nothing with Abraham to be given away to Lot. How many of us can? That is what bosom is about. A giving heart is not weary in well doing. That also explains Genesis 14:14-16 which we have already read before now and shall read again: “And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan … And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother lot, and his goods, and the women also, and people.” This is bowels of mercy. Can we easily hazard ourselves and our others for the Lots in our lives?
Men with Bosoms go to Yonder Bosom
Do we have bosoms? Do we know how many battles the church has either shied away from or even “lost”, as it were, because many who say and sing ‘Abraham’s blessings are mine’ have no bosom? Do we know how many Lots we have lost in battle because believers’ breasts and hearts are storing up corrupted milk and retaining cankered blood respectively? Sir, do you know how many brethren needed milk unto life, which milk God puts in your breast, and because they did not have it are consequently either gone from this precious faith we have in Christ or at the verge of going? Ma, do you know how many believers who are lukewarm and too weak and weary to go to war for their Savior because you and I are denying them blood and life-line?
Want to go to Abraham bosom? REMEMBER LAZARUS AND THE RICHMAN! But we must say that since Jesus resurrected the compartment of Hades known as Abraham bosom or Paradise is now empty; emptied into Heaven, the eternal Paradise also called God’s Bosom as we shall be seeing shortly! And this is where saints go to now when they die. If the rich man without bosom didn’t go to Abraham bosom or Paradise that then was, can men without bosom go to God’s bosom or our present Paradise?
Is it still true today that it is easier for the camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to enter Heaven, or our imagination has ‘expunge’ that from the Book of Life? Remember that this question that stems from another scene with Jesus has to do with another rich man. Is it not this question of bosom that many lack that really makes it difficult for the rich to enter Heaven? Was it not really the problem with this rich young man? Except for this, he was a Heaven’s candidate by the Old Testament standard. It was just one thing he lacked! One thing! His channels were blocked. He knew not the purpose of God’s riches. He had no bosom and couldn’t get to the bosom above.
The instructive and advisory story is in Mark 10:17-31: “And when He was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God. Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions. And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible. Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee. And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last first.”
The story is self explanatory. But let’s just draw attention to these: The rich man probably had all it takes to make it to heaven going by the Old Testament standard. He kept the law. And here we even see certain qualities in him many of us lack: His zeal in pursuing after Jesus; his humility in kneeling down to Jesus and his shamelessness in doing that in public before all eyes despite his wealth and status; his type of inquiry (eternity with God) and what he should do to make it there. It reminds me of Solomon who asked for the most important thing from God: Wisdom! And what the accompanied riches did to Solomon is common knowledge and I visited it in “Between Holiness and ‘Prosperity’ Preaching”. There I also said however that “his Proverbs (words of wisdom) and Ecclesiastics (words of the preacher) we have a restored picture of Solomon and they (Proverbs and Ecclesiastics) must be lessons enough for us … because many have made shipwreck of their faith today for either seeking after the things God says He will add or misusing the additives”.
Like Solomon this rich man asked to know and to have the most important thing ever. Many of us are asking for the things God says He will add and want Him to add the thing (the Kingdom of God) and things (all it’s or the Kingdom’s righteousness) that He says we should seek. So, let’s not forget the hugely positive side of this man. But one thing he lacked! One thing! It is this ‘one thing’ that denied him eternity with God: the purpose of creation and reason for existence. May we not trust in riches! Before they develop wings or become cankered let our bosoms come alive.
It is when the rich distributes, and we are all rich relatively, that the Peters would have the hundred folds that Jesus speaks of. Can you see the connection between the rich man’s story and Jesus’ answer to Peter’s question? Can you see the context? Can you get the lesson? Though this rich man backed out Jesus knew that is not the end to the hundredfold. Many are out there making the hundredfold thing possible. There are many Barnabas out there. There are many out there only minding to meet their needs and giving out the excesses or making them available for the Kingdom of God’s work. You and I can choose to belong to the side of Barnabas or this young rich man.
Abraham, Righteousness, Heaven and Wealth
Many who claim to be Abraham’s children, who claim his blessings as theirs, and who have turned the gospel of our Lord unto lasciviousness would hardly remember that Abraham also has a City that has foundation as his main focus and drive. Righteousness was the chief asset of Abraham therefore because that is what keeps the heavenly focus on. And because of this too God added riches to him because he has the righteousness to manage them. Abraham was seeking that City with all earnestness and God added to him riches, not for himself but for his household, nay household of faith, for that was what Abraham’s household represented – Multitudes. God gave him riches for his generation that is.
Abraham sort for a City that has foundation, Whose builder is God. There is no gainsaying the fact that Abraham’s heart was in Heaven; and this cannot be possible except he was laying his treasures there, for where our treasures is there will our hearts be also the Savior tells us. Abraham knew the reason for prosperity and riches: That is, being rich unto God (His work and household).
Righteousness does not hoard. It knows the reason the unrighteous mammon comes around. And its bosom is open and pours itself out to the household of God and God’s work for this is the way of the spirit; but the way of the flesh is full of self-excuses and self-justification. The flesh seeks prosperity and gets it to its ruin. Righteousness attracts prosperity and gets it for God’s purpose.
Except you have a righteousness that can coordinates, drive and use God’s riches through you, you end up making shipwreck of your faith. You render them cankered! And there awaits a fearful and terrible account rendering: a judgment! Seek you great things for yourself? Seek them not. Leaving in ceiled houses and letting the House of God lay waste? Think again!
The Savior Himself said that we should seek the Kingdom of God and its righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto us. Righteousness is what makes us to be good custodian of these provisions, good caretaker of them, and that good steward who shall give a faithful account on that day. Abraham had the righteousness that enabled him to be trusted to handle God’s provision and he never made them cankered, never consumed them on his own lust but channeled them just as God himself would have done. That is righteousness! And this is what we must crave for, and God will keep His Word true in us i.e. will give the additives, without us making shipwreck of our faith.
What will Abraham not give to God or because of God?
We may need to go back to how Abraham even started with God. Abraham gave himself to God when he walked out from his people to a land God would show him:
“Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came” – Genesis 12:1-5.
From now on Abraham has no life of his own. Think about it. He first gave and yielded all to God. In that obedience Sarah shared. Both man and wife completely sold themselves to God. What can Abraham not give to God! Let our wives share in our obedience to God and vice versa. Most of the shared loyalties we have today for Christ in the Church are a factor of the kind of spouse we have. Most of this covetousness, flamboyant living, and acquisitive tendencies in our midst today, link there. They weren’t there when we started out with Jesus Christ. Let all the brethren look unto Abraham and Sarah. Like we said before, we say again: Let’s be chips off the old block. ‘Look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged. Look unto Abraham your father, and unto Sarah that bare you’.
You must not forget the case of Isaac that we have refer in passing already who this man of God was ready to offer as a Sacrifice unto God. Abraham did not spare his only child, even the child of eternal promise. Do you know what that mean! That obedience actually crowned Abraham the father of faith. It was that obedience that gave Abraham the lamb in the thicket; and subsequently gave to all of us God’s Only Begotten Son: Emmanuel, Who came to die for the sins of humanity. The Great Sacrifice!
God has a Bosom this Abraham took after!
Abraham has a bosom like the God He served. “No man has seen God at anytime; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” – John 1:18. Do you know that God has a Bosom too, and that His Son came to us from His Bosom; and has since returned to His Bosom? “For God so love the world that He gave…” Bosom gives!
We have noted that Abraham bosom or Paradise which is the other divide of Hades, the other divide being hellfire, has been evacuated to Heaven, God’s Bosom or Paradise. That took place when Jesus went there and resurrected with them. In Matthew 27:50-53 we read that “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many”.
Verse 52 speaks of ‘many bodies of the saints which slept arose’. Much can be said here but the summarized take of Finis Jennings Dake on it will suffice here: “These bodies made part of the multitude of captives Christ captured from Satan in the underworld of departed spirits and which He took captive with Him when He ascended on high (Ephesians 4:8-10; Hebrews 2:14-15). Now when Christians die they no longer go into the lower parts of the earth held captive by the devil against their will, but go to heaven to await the resurrection of the body (2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:21-24; Revelation 6:9-11; Hebrews 12:22). The wicked continue to go to hell to await their resurrection (Luke 16:19-31; Revelation 20:11-15)”. Today, the righteous now go to God’s bosom.
And there very many of us now have the hope that we shall see Him. Of course, Jesus says where He is we shall also be when we die now or when He comes to take us during the rapture, that is. Where is He now? He has returned to the Bosom of His Father. Are we ready to go there with Him when He comes? Hope is good, but are we making ourselves ready! Do we have bosom: This being one way of making ourselves ready. If every Christian is to be like you and I can the missionaries who are in the real battle fields say Christians have breasts; can the multitudes roaming in the darkness of false religions and held in the grip of same come to the knowledge of the True and Only God?
Abraham had flourishing breast, sharing heart! This is the Christianity of the New Testament Church too. What was important to them is the furtherance of the gospel and meeting the needs of the brethren. They gave in want and penury as well as in plenty. The driving principle and the target goal of their giving was that: There was none that lacked and there was none that had too much; because they that had always emptied themselves of excesses that those that lack would have enough to meet with their needs (see 2 Corinthians 8:13-15, which we visited elsewhere).
Let’s get bosoms that the brethren can embrace, so that they can stay strong and victorious in the various battlefields. This was very important in Old Testament times in entering into Abraham’s bosom; and now very important for us in entering into God’s bosom on High.
Frances R. Harvegal represented the faith of our fathers which faith she also subscribed to and lived by and which we must also subscribe to and live by this way:
1. Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
2. Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.
3. Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
4. Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.
5. Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
6. Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.