Archive for the ‘ Genesis’ Category

The Truth is in Genesis…

Friday May 19, 2006

Links from Genesis:

Ken Ham asks whether understanding Genesis literally is important, and has a great beard!

Nathan Burley on being a tourist like Abraham (ch23)

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Genesis is a book of beginnings. The beginning of the universe, the beginning of people, the beginning of sin, the beginning of suffering. It also shows the beginning of God’s revelation to us, as we learn of how he related to the beginnings of humanity and the beginnings of Israel his chosen people. Again and again God works his magnificent plan despite the disobedient and disgusting ways of his people and he is never foiled. Again and again he offers his people a fresh start, a new beginning. It’s also the beginning of the climax of history – as we see hints of the future revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ who will offer a complete new begininng to all.

Are you sitting comfortably? Let’s begin!

Genesis 26

Friday May 19, 2006

At the beginning of the chapter God tells Isaac that if he stays in this land, God will bless him. Then, in verse 12 it says that Isaac "sowed in that land and…the LORD blessed him" by making him very wealthy. Fair enough – that's just God doing what he said. But in between the two, wouldn't you expect to find Isaac trusting in God and not falling into the same sins that his father did? But that's not what we find – God comes through on his promise despite Isaac's lying. It's far too easy to hold Isaac up as the bad guy whenever he makes a mistake, but we see that in many ways he lived well – his dealing with the well situations, his grief over the improper marriages of his son and his good relations (after the Rebekah incident) with Abimelech. If he needed grace, so do I, and I never want to forget how out-of-this-world this is. This same grace is what I have. My life depends on it.

Heavenly Father, I thankyou for the good example of men like Isaac and the way that we can use them to model our own walk with you. But I thankyou so much more that the days that Isaac failed – and the days that I fail – don't stop you being faithful to your promises? Where would I be otherwise? Help me to live in the light of your awesome faithfulness and in your power follow the good example and put off the bad. Amen

Genesis 24:61-25:34

Wednesday May 17, 2006

God chooses that Jacob will be the dominant son before they are born. It's almost as if God's choice isn't based on a person's actions but on, well, his choice. (cf Romans 9.)

Don't despise the inheritance that you've been born into for some stew or any other worldly pleasure.

Dear God, I want to live in light of Heaven rather than just thinking about today. Make Christ real to me by your Spirit. Amen.

Genesis 24:1-60

Monday May 15, 2006

This arranged marriage is pretty weird to our culture, but Abraham had his priorities sorted. He knew that more important than Isaac being attracted to his future wife or 'clicking' with her was that she was of the same people, so they could work together in serving God. The Bible never says that we must marry those we find it easy to love, but we must marry those who are Christian. As an apprentice at my church (who is going out with an attractive young Christian woman) puts it, "Don't date dead people!"

A quick comment on prayer, Rebekah comes to the well before the servant has finished praying. It's not – as I can so often think – God saying 'Ah, that's a good idea, I might just try that.' Rather, Rebekah was already coming and the servant's prayer allowed him to see God's plans. In true prayer, our wills are conformed to God's so that we can serve him better in the rest of the day. Of course prayer does change what happens, but only when we pray according to God's will. If you want to guarantee that your prayer will be answered with a big, resounding 'YES!' try praying "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

Heavenly Father, thankyou that you provided Isaac with a wife who was willing to leave her home. Help me to have the right focus in all my relationships, and to make it a priority to have solid Christian friendships with people who will encourage me to serve you faithfully. Help me to learn to pray the way you want, by searching the Scriptures to find what you want prayed for. Hallowed be your name. Amen.

Genesis 23

Sunday May 14, 2006

We see Abraham's character as a decent guy who desperately wants to avoid taking advantage of others. But there's much more that I completely missed. As soon as Sarah dies, Abraham says "I am a sojourner and foreigner among you". That's fair enough – they were living there first – but there's more to it than meets the eye. Turning to Hebrews 11 (that wonderful and inspired commentry on so much of Genesis!) the writer tells us that he lived "in the land of promise as a foreign land" (Hebrews 11:9) because he considered that he was a foreigner in the whole earth (v13). His wife's death had reminded him that this earth isn't his permanent home, but he's waiting for his true home. What a perfect reaction to a death – recognising that the deceased has entered a blessed rest, and being reminded that life is just being a tourist here on earth. Since I used the word tourist, I found this post helpful (and, in fact, the entire blog!)

Since we won't be hearing more of Sarah in Genesis (as far as I remember!) now seems like a sensible time to go back over her life and see what it's like. She was a woman who lived by faith in the awesome God who had made great promises to her. Where's my evidence for this in Genesis? I don't really have any. Truthfully, she doesn't come across too well in these chapters – she laughed when she was told she would bear a son and then denied it (Genesis 18), and she twice followed her husband into sin when he asked her to lie about being his wife (Genesis 12 & 20). But I'm not pulling it out of the sky. In fact, it's coming from…Hebrews! In the ESV (the English Standard Version of the Bible which I'm going to be using from now on) Hebrews 11:11 says, "By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised." I love my mum and dad dearly (which I don't say often enough – I love you guys!) and I thank God that they trust in the same Saviour I do, but I'm also excited that in terms of God's promises and salvation I'm descended from this God-fearing, faithful couple and can strive to live in their example.

Father Abraham had many sons,
Many sons had father Abraham.
I am one of them, you can be too
So let's all praise the Lord!

Amen, let's.

Heavenly Father, I praise you that you have made your offer of salvation open to everyone through Abraham and Sarah and their descedant Jesus Christ. Thankyou that at the last day you have promised that there will be such a great number who are rejoicing in you with this couple. Help me to live up to their example, remembering your faithfulness and letting it inspire my own and remembering that this life will never be my home. Let me long desperately for the full experience I will have of you in Heaven, and search for as much of you as I can have here. Amen.

Genesis 21:22-22:24

Saturday May 13, 2006

To be honest, I'm not sure what the point to me of 21:22-34 is – I'm not sure what I'm supposed to get from it. If anyone has any ideas…

Chapter 22, though, seems much easier to understand if not to apply. There were several points that struck me as I was reading it this morning.

Abraham says "Here am I" three times in this chapter. He was completely available and ready to listen.

Abraham obeys God instantly ("Early in the morning" – v3) and persistantly (he hadn't changed his mind even by the "third day" – v4). He wouldn't have been able to hold his resolve for that long. Surely he must have spent those days meditating on God's promise that Isaac would be the father of many children and on God's faithfulness. He had so much faith in God's promises that "he considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead" (Hebrews 11:19). How do expect to cope with tough times (or even good days!) without spending time meditating on God's word?

Abraham says that "God will provide for himself the lamb". He knew that God had provided Isaac when naturally he wouldn't have been born. He knew that Isaac belonged to God. But the fact that he acted on that in giving Isaac back to God is phenomenal.

God says that he will bless Abraham and give him many offspring "because you have obeyed my voice" (v18). Previously God promised unconditionally that Abraham would have many children. What if Abraham had said no? What would God have done? Of course, the point is that Abraham didn't say no! Here we see the beginning of a theme expanded on again and again in the Bible – God is sovereign and has mapped out all of time and it is good, but we are responsible and our actions have consequences. If you strain, you may hear a little hissing as my brain melts. Praise God that he has it under control!

The biggest thing that struck me, though, was the typology going on – the fact that this whole story is a picture of something that was to come. This is the first time that a ram was offered as a substitute for the death of a human which would be repeated in the Passover and properly in the crucifixion. Abraham and Isaac would never know that this event was a shadow of the only other time God would command the sacrifice of a human – another "only son" (v12, 16) of a Father who loved him dearly, another man who would have to carry up a mountain the wood on which he was to be killed (v6). That made me stop and wonder at the genius who scattered the little pictures of Christ's death throughout Israelite history. Then I stopped and wondered that God himself did what he did not require Abraham to do. God went the whole way and sacrificed his own Son, the God-man Christ. I can't get my head around it.

Heavenly Father, you are faithful to your promises and you are so wise. You only ever work for good, and you have the power that you only ever win. I confess that I have so often not made myself available to hear you and say "here am I" – I've been too busy in sin or laziness or self-indulgance. Thankyou for the cross that means I can fail and still be clean. Please help me to live the life of alertness and sacrifice that Abraham was willing to. Amen

Genesis 21:1-21

Friday May 5, 2006

Laughter is a major thought in this passage. As both Abraham and Sarah had laughed in disbelief (17:17, 18:12) now Sarah laughs, presumably with joy. And "everyone who hears about this will laugh with [her]" (v6). But Ishmael's mockery (v9) – or "laughing" in the ESV – upset Sarah enough to have Ishmael and Hagar sent from the family turning their laughter into tears.

Furthermore, God's grace is seen again. He came through on his promise ("Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children?", v7. Well, God did!) but not only did he bless Abraham with Isaac, but Ishmael who was sent away with some food and a skin of water was given a well and later made into a nation. Even though God never meant to reckon his promise through natural offspring – cf. Romans 9 – he does say "I will make the son of the maidservant into a nation also, because he is [Abraham's] offspring." He didn't have to, but he did for Abraham.

So, this is a pretty good human interest story with the added bonus that you find out how the Jewish and Arab nations first split from each other. But it has far more significance to me than that, as Paul expains in the tail end of Galatians 4. In the middle of his letter trying to stop them from following the letter of Jewish law, Paul talks about this story. Why? Because as a Christian, I am a son of Abraham though Sarah the free woman, not through Hagar the slave woman. Hagar, we are told, is a symbol of the Law given at Mount Sinai (in Arabia) and I am not slave to it. I was born again into freedom from that Law. And, "it was for freedom that Christ has set us free." (Galatians 5:1) Thank God that he has called me to be free, not to be bound to follow a Law that I can't keep if I want to work my way into his good books. Thank God that I am writen in that book because of what Christ has done and not because of anything I have achieved. Yay!

Heavenly Father, I am amazed and I praise and thank you that you want me as your child, and that because of the cross you will accept me – and delight in me! – as I am. I am not in slavery to rules, but because you have made me righteous through Christ, help me to live as I am in Christ: pure and separate for you. Amen.

Genesis 20

Thursday May 4, 2006

"There is surely no fear of God in this place" (v11). Really? "Early the next morning Abimelech summoned all his officials, and when he had told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid." (v8) It seems that the royal household does fear God. But even if they didn't, the real problem in this story comes from the fact that Abraham himself doesn't fear God as much as he fears Abimelech. I can't decide that I know what's best – whatever new country I find myself in – but I must follow God's commands and promises and trust him to take care of the rest. Fearing God just means treating him as if he were God.

Dodgy leadership matters. In this case Abraham, as head of the family, had the wrong priorities and this lead Sarah in the wrong direction, causing her to lie. While this doesn't abdicate her of responsibility, there is responsibility on leaders. They must set an example in prayerfulness, submission and obedience, dependance on God, purity and all the fruit of the Spirit (Galations 5:22-3).

This chapter shows (again!) how merciful God is. This is the second time Abraham has done this and God would be well within his rights to just give up on him. But he protects Sarah so as to remain faithful to the promise he gave to Abraham that she would bear him a child. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound!

Heavenly Father, thankyou for your immense love that you have showered on me. Let me remember how faithful you are, and so treat you and no other as God. Let me take up the responsibility of leadership, cherishing the example of your Son, always trusting in your Spirit for my strength and direction and only for your glory. Amen.

Genesis 19

Friday March 17, 2006

What's striking in this passage is that no one reacts to the coming judgement correctly. The crowds are too busy sinning to hear the warning. Lot's son in laws think that it's just a joke. Lot hesitates to leave the city and has to be dragged out (note that God is an initiator, and doesn't wait for us to save ourselves but has done the work for us). He then doesn't want to follow the Lord's guidance, but instead turns to another small town. His wife turns back longingly to the city they have been forced to leave. His daughters, after they have been saved, return to the sexual immorality that doomed Sodom. I wonder how many of these reactions I can see in the people around me, and myself as well.

I wonder what it was that made Lot scared to stay in Zoar. It might have been actually seeing the destruction of Sodom, a new fear of God, the death of his wife. Whatever it was, it is clear that God was so powerful that Lot wanted to obey him.

The mention of Abraham in verse 27 looking over the plain is very powerful. You can imagine him standing there, in awe of God's strength, but being immensly saddened at the loss of life. I've just realised that at Judgement day I'll be there. How much I need to plead with God that he will save the people I know, and plead with them so that they won't be swept up in his judgement.

Heavenly Father, I praise you that you are so holy you cannot stand sin. Let me hate all forms of sin more, but help me to love the people who are caught up in sin enough to plead with them to look to you. Please will you let those who are around me every day be amoung those that shout for joy when you return. Blessed be your name. Amen.

Genesis 18

Wednesday March 15, 2006

How awesome it must have been for Abraham to meet with God in person, and then be able to request things of him directly. Guess what! I have God living in me and I can pray to him at any time when I'm humble enough to remember that I need him. How fantastic is that? It's so easy to long for the good ol' days when God walked the earth and spoke to these spiritual giants like Abraham. It must have been so easy for them. But what would they say of me? The curtain has been torn down, God has graciously granted me access to him all day every day not just at the times that he chooses. I think that Abraham would long for the good new days, and probably with far more reason than I. It wasn't easy for Abraham or Sarah, as evidenced by the fact that Sarah laughed at God's word despite the fact this wasn't the first time he had said she would bear Abraham a son. I need to seriously thank God for what he has given me through and in Christ.

Heavenly Father, I praise you that you were gracious to let Abraham see you and speak with you. I praise you that you allow the same to me, when I know I am so unworthy. Let me love more the fact that you are here all the time, always in me and always listening. Let me make more use of prayer. Let me be transformed by your presence to love Christ more. Amen.