(1389) THIS IS A LARGE WORK I HAVE CALLED YOU INTO, DON’T BE OVERWHELMED BY IT- Jesus to his men, message version. The other day I read some stuff from a fairly conservative blog site [Christian post] and was surprised to see that one of the blogs they recommended had a scientist espouse a sort of theistic evolutionary view. He spoke about ‘human like beings’ who lived before man and had no souls and all, he also gave a version of Noah’s flood that said it was possible that meteors might have impacted the ocean and caused a regional flood. The man is smart and gave many fine examples and stuff, I just felt like he was off the mark. Over the years of looking at the various views among believers I have noticed that often times we can believe that biblical accounts happened, but we have a tendency to want to reduce them down to size. The God of deism has no problem with a God who is ‘hands off’- that is they view God from a perspective that says ‘yes, he started things at the beginning, but it took billions of years for things to form’. Sort of like God could have created the first living cell, but in no way could he have actually formed a complete man in one lump sum! In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean there is this huge ridge, a possible crevice that broke up during the shifting of the Tectonic Plates when the continents first separated. Some scientists believe this happened when the planet spread apart in the distant past. Now, it is perfectly plausible to theorize that if this event happened in a short time [like a year] instead of a long time over many thousands of years, that this breaking up of the floor of the ocean might very well have created an effect that caused the ocean floor to rise and much of the water in the Atlantic could have ‘spilled out’ and easily covered the entire planet in a short period of time [Gore thinks a little ice melting can do it!]. The biblical account of Noah’s flood tells us that it not only rained for 40 days and nights, but that the ‘fountains of the deep broke open’. The point being there are many plausible ideas on how the earth could have experienced a global flood, much like the account in Genesis gives us. But we have a tendency to want to break things down into small chunks, and then think these ‘small chunks’ are reasonable enough for enlightened man to accept. I am personally an ‘old earth’ adherent, I do not believe the earth is only 6 thousand years old, but at the same time we need to be open to the arguments that both sides of these issues make. To be honest, many of these endeavors are ‘large’ that is God has called the church to engage in all realms of society; science, philosophy, etc. – at times it seems like a huge task, something that can be overwhelming to the average student of the bible, take heart, there are many able believers in all these fields that are doing a superb job. Don’t let ‘science’ tell you that all the facts are on the side of the atheists, that’s just not true.
(1174) Almost finished with Noll’s book [scandal of the evangelical mind] and thought it time to comment. The book was published in 1994 and I realize a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. Noll brings out great points; he shows a fundamental weakness in American evangelicalism because of the way the movement shaped a sort of anit intellectual way/thought pattern of viewing the world and society. He really takes the dispensational wing of the church to task, frankly, I was surprised how willingly he dismantled many of their belief systems. I agree with him on this issue, but was surprised that a very popular book would go this far [and still be nominated book of the year by Christianity today- back in 1994!]. I think an area of weakness in the book is Noll’s ‘over association’ of young earth creationism with the Seventh Day Adventist church, and his repeating of the charge that creationists [and fundamentalists in general] are practicing a form of ‘modern Manichaeism’. He basically links an ‘anti material spirit’ that was seen in the early Christian heretics [Gnosticism, Docetism and Manichaeism] and applies this to the views of creationists and their so called unwillingness to allow the facts from nature speak for themselves. I wrote the note ‘way too much’ a few times when reading the book. I think he’s basically mistaken on this, many early Christian thinkers did hold to a young earth view, and they were the same thinkers who rebuked these cults who rejected the natural world as evil. Overall the book is a worthwhile read, it exposes the weakness of the fundamental/evangelical movement to ‘think Christianly’ about the world and society around them. Too often believers think ‘thinking Christianly’ means introducing bible verses into the conversation, this is not what Noll is speaking about. He shows the fundamental error that arose during the modernist/fundamentalist debates of the 19th/20th centuries, and how this caused the church to accept modes of thinking and learning that were disconnected from the fathers of these movements. For instance, Jonathan Edwards, who is considered to be the greatest homegrown thinker of the American experience, he embraced an acceptance of the natural sciences as a way to learn more about the ways of God. True studies of the earth and universe and things in the world were accepted as a means of God communicating truth to his people thru the ‘book of nature’. Noll shows how the fundamentalist movement came to reject this willingness to look at the natural world and learn from it. Thus his overstated charge of Manichaeism, a group that saw the natural world as evil. A blind spot of Noll is his seeming belief that the majority of all Christians/scientists accepted as fact the old earth views of the Geologic table and the other sciences that arose at the time [like evolutionary theory]. He paints a picture that says ‘see, most believers were open to learning from science back then, but the fundamentalist movement and the rise of creationism side tracked the church’. This is simply not true. Many scientists and Christians did not accept the science of an old earth and the interpretation of the geologic table. Many fathers of the church accepted a young earth view [Noll’s creationism] since the beginning of church history. Though Noll quotes saint Augustine in his defense of thinking critically, yet Augustine himself believed in a young earth. He actually believed God made everything in an instant and the 6 days of Genesis 1 were symbolic, that God used the ‘6 day framework’ to show us his creative acts. The point being, Augustine’s spiritualizing of the days of creation did not make him an old earth believer! So there were a few things like this that I take issue with, overall I think every evangelical/protestant believer would benefit from reading the book. Noll’s challenge to the evangelical church to ‘think Christianly in all areas of life’ is a needed rebuke to many in the church. Noll is correct in showing the weakness of the American protestant church and her basic disdain of intellectual learning, thinking that higher learning in and of itself is a bad thing. This has fostered a community of believers that has cut itself off from the basic institutions that effect society as a whole [the research universities being one example]. If Christians shy away from the natural sciences and the reality that even unbelievers have at times revealed to us true things thru these studies, then we are going down a road that will eventually cut our influence off from the broader society at large.
(1149) Just started reading Luke, in chapter one we see the story of the birth’s of John and Jesus. We see the dual ways that God works. In John’s birth the angel appears to his parents and reveals that Elisabeth will get pregnant, though she and her husband are old. She has been unable to have children and they have prayed for kids. God does it thru a miraculous intervention and reveals it thru an angel. The same angel appears to Mary and tells her she will have Jesus, Mary asks ‘how can this be, I know not a man’. It’s almost if she was looking at the miraculous situation of her cousin and the fact that God allowed her to get pregnant, but yet there were natural means that God used. John’s parents did sleep together and God gave them the child; miraculous in that Elisabeth was beyond the age of kids, but also a natural explanation can be seen. So Mary must be thinking ‘now Gabriel, I do realize you are an angel and all, you have a pretty good prophetic track record when it comes to announcing births; but you must understand there is only so much God can do, if you don’t know yet, I’m still A VIRGIN!’ The fact is that both John and Jesus births were considered miraculous, the fact that a natural explanation could be attributed to the process with John, this did not mean that there had to be a natural explanation to all miraculous births! As we just came off a series of posts on creation and science, I want to overview a few things when it comes to the miraculous. First, the act of creation itself is a tremendous miracle that can never be fully explained by naturalistic means. Hebrews says ‘by faith we understand the worlds were framed by the word of God’ there are things that God does, that often can not be explained thru science. Though we try and make a noble effort to use the tool of science to argue for the reality of God, yet we don’t want to fall into the trap of Mary, who thought ‘how can this be?’ It ‘can be’ because God said it can be! God’s creative power causes things to be! There is a danger of skepticism creeping into the ranks when we try and affix a scientific explanation to all the aspects of creation, the fact is the actual act of God bringing things into existence by his spoken word is a mystery that can never be fully explained by science. We can try and understand things as much as possible, like the light from galaxies that are supposed to be 13 billion miles away, if the earth were only 6-10 thousand years old, then we wouldn’t be able to see the galaxies yet. The light wouldn’t have had enough time to travel to our telescopes! Okay, sounds good. But then the young earth creationists will explain that the light from all the super novas that occur [the deaths of stars that put off tremendous light] if the planet were billions of years old, we would be seeing the light from many more of these star deaths than we currently see. The light from these explosions would literally be bombarding the planet at a much higher rate than we now observe. So these are two good arguments made from both sides of the debate. But can we hold God down to these types of natural explanations? How can science fully measure the creative act of God? The appearance of all things from nothing can not be measured in the same way as all other things that currently exist. The divine act of creation was a one time event that can not be repeated. It does not fall under the scientific category of testability, it is in the category of observable past events. We know it occurred, we look at it, but we can’t repeat the process and test the event itself. Some say that at the initial creation God created the light ‘in transit’ he was not limited to the natural speed of light that would need 13 billion years to travel from the furthest galaxies to the planet, he made these things in a truly miraculous way! To be sure there are many other things like this that can be used to defend both sides of the issue, today’s point is in the situation with the miraculous births of John and Jesus, both were considered miracles, but one birth had a natural explanation to it [God used his power to enable the barren womb of Elisabeth to conceive thru natural means of conception] and the other didn’t [Mary was really a virgin, the only way you could explain the event itself was that it was a miracle from God- no natural explanation could suffice]. When it’s all said and done we do our best to understand and love God with our minds and intellect, but there are things that we cant always wrap our minds around, these are the ‘things we understand by faith’.
(1148) THE TOWER OF BABEL- Today I finish the Genesis study that I started a few years ago. Sort of a milestone if you will. In chapter 11 we see the famous story of the Tower of Babel. Man united his efforts, learned how to build things contrary to God’s initiative [brick and mortar versus stone] and gave his time and efforts willingly in order to make a name for himself [image building]. Over the years I have observed the church of God go thru various seasons, sometimes I cross paths with good men who are at different levels of the journey [like myself]. One of ‘the levels’ is the realization that ministers/pastors have often unconsciously built towers of Babel when they meant to build Gods church. Babel was an affront to what God wanted. Babel was an edifice that drew your attention to man and his ability to get things done, it shouted ‘look how much I have been able to accomplish, cant you see what I’ve done’! Contrary to mans building plan, God used stones that were honed and fashioned at the quarry before they were brought to the temple site. This represented the reality that though man is used in Gods building program, yet he is simply a stone carrier/placer. He doesn’t actually produce the building materials [brick and mortar]. The Lord stopped the tower of Babel by confusing the languages of men and scattering them throughout the land. The contrast to this chapter is Acts 2, where the Lord supernaturally allowed men of many different languages to once again come together and understand each other. Sort of like Gods divine imprimatur on the new building/tower that he was going to build [the church]. He would allow men once again to take part in this unified effort to build something. But it would be like the prophet said ‘not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord’ [stones versus brick]. On the journey most leaders will eventually see the common mistake that many Protestants have made in allowing the things we have built to bring honor and attention to who we are, what we have been able to do. This mindset of building is exactly what God rebuked at Babel, he did not want man to ‘build a tower unto heaven’ and believe in his own intellect and abilities. Jesus often challenged the mindset of the disciples on the nature of leadership, he built into them a new way of seeing leadership, it would not be a means to become the greatest, the most well known one among the group. It is common today for the leader/pastor of a congregation to unconsciously become the center of attention; this is a mistake that Christians have made by not seriously following the commands of Jesus about leadership in his kingdom. Most leaders will face a time where they will have to die to this addiction that is common among good men, men who mean well. When confronted with this challenge it is a conscious choice that leaders will make that is not easy, it truly will be a Cross to bear. But it’s better than God having to come down and personally stop the building program!
(1147) Lets do a brief overview. Those of you reading these last 10 or so entries from the Genesis Study will see that I taught the chapters 12-50 a few years ago. I had no real reason to have left out the first 11 chapters; it just worked out that way. It gave me some time to look at both sides of the creation debate [young versus old earth]. First, I want to say that I still lean towards old earth myself, but do not consider myself a Progressive Creationist. These brothers view the creation days as long ages, the problem I have with that view is it has God intervening directly and creating life at many different intervals over millions of years. I don’t hold to that. But I do believe it’s possible to have an old earth and a literal reading of the days [I already explained it in these last few posts]. Most of all I want to stress that the bible is not clear when it comes to the age of the earth. The young earth brothers have made a very noble effort from verses that connect the beginning of creation with man [Mark 10:6] or other verses speaking about things from the start [Mark 13:19-20, Luke 11: 50-51]. Too much to do now, but it is a long argument for a young earth. The other word that comes up often is Phenomenological, this word is used to explain the language of scripture that is used when speaking to the common man. Like when the bible speaks of the Sun set and Sun rise, most of us realize that the Sun is not the object that is moving! So to technically argue something that we know is ‘not true’ would be silly. Mark Noll wrote about stuff like this in the popular book ‘Scandal of the Evangelical mind’. So, how much science do we accept? Do we use these arguments to open the door to Evolution and everything else that comes down the pike? Of course not! But we try and stay open to science while at the same time staying true to Gods word. For many years science and philosophy believed in an eternal earth and universe. It wasn’t until the tremendous breakthroughs of the 20th century that the Big bang Theory became accepted science. If you listened to Einstein’s theories at the beginning, they seemed utterly ludicrous! His ideas about time not being fixed, and the relationship between time and space were way out there. Many Christians did not accept his ideas. But there were many atheistic scientists who were more troubled, if Hubble and Einstein were right [they were] that would mean the universe had a starting point [the so called point of singularity] the atheists knew that this would sound the death bell for their belief in atheism. If there was a starting point to time and matter, then there was no way to get around it, you would need an initial starter [Aristotle and Aquinas would be right- prime mover, though they both believed in an eternal universe]. So today the majority view of cosmology is the Big Bang theory, some scientists still argue for the eternal universe, but most believe in the Big Bang. In essence this is an example where science has handed to the theologian one of the greatest weapons to argue for the existence of God. But just like the age of the earth debate, you have believers who challenge Big Bang cosmology. Some are smart and have good reasons to challenge it. When I say I believe in the Big Bang, I am not saying I hold to the various views of evolutionary processes that come along with the theory; things like the stars producing the matter that swirled out over millions/billions of years and formed planets. There are obviously parts of the Big bang theory that are questionable. So scientists try and come up with ideas to make the questions go away. A major problem to the Big bang theory is how can the universe have such a stable balance of temperature all over the place. If everything expanded [that’s really a better word to explain it than explosion] at such a rapid rate, you would not have the stable atmosphere that science shows us. So a professor at M.I.T., Alan Guth, came up with an idea called ‘inflation’ he guessed that at the initial point of singularity, everything first expanded to the size of a basketball and all the matter of the universe was stabilized at this point. Then the massive expansion took place and that’s why you have a steady balance when there shouldn’t be one. To say the least these ideas are very questionable, that’s why some scientists don’t accept the whole theory. But for the most part the accepted truth that all matter did have a beginning point is one of the strongest apologetic arguments that science could have ever given to the church. The point being we as believers need to look at both sides of these issues, the debate between young and old earth creationism has at times lost the Christian mandate to deal charitably with each other. I realize the views held are sincere, and many believe the integrity of Gods word is at stake. But we need to present our views and let the chips fall where they may. I will probably finish this short excursion into Genesis tomorrow, but those of you reading these entries from other parts of the blog besides the ‘Evolution/Cosmology’ section, I would suggest reading the stuff I have written in that section along with these last 10 posts. It will help give you a better idea of where I am coming from.
(1146) SONS AFTER THE FLOOD- In Genesis 9 we read the account of Noah and his sons repopulating the planet. God promises Noah that he will never destroy the earth again [by way of water- what about fire? We’ll get to that in a minute] and we see the beginning of man eating animals for the first time, the institution of the death penalty and civil justice [Romans 13] and the famous promise of the rainbow ‘when ever it rains again you will see my bow in the clouds and know I will not flood the earth again’. Are there natural explanations to things that the bible ascribes to God? Yes. Does that mean the bible is a book of myths and fables that were fake and only meant to give us moral lessons? No [contrary to liberal theology]. The fact that we know every time there is a rainbow in the sky, that there is a natural explanation to it, this does not mean this story is fake. God obviously created a repeatable situation that never occurred before, and he told man it was for a sign. Just because science can ascribe a naturalistic explanation to a thing, this does not mean the thing has no supernatural elements to it. This is also where the theistic evolutionists/progressive creationists make parts of their case. Does the fact that God created something mean that there are no possible natural means for him to work by? They will show you that when David said God formed him in his mothers womb, that obviously ‘God formed’ David in a different way than Adam! When you look at ‘a test tube baby’ do you not see a creation of God? Yes, even though there are obvious natural explanations to the conception and birth [like the rainbow being explained by nature] yet the actual life itself is still a mystery that can only be attributed to God. Also God reassures man not to worry about a total future destruction of the planet, in the last verse of chapter 8 he says as long as the earth remains there will never be another worldwide ceasing of the created order [seedtime and harvest]. How do we square this with the Christian doctrine of ‘the end of the world’? Now, this can get complicated and take more time than I have right now, but lets try and take a quick ride. The famous New Testament verse on the future ‘destruction’ of the planet is found in 2nd Peter 3 [the same chapter that deals with the flood] Peter says the elements will melt with a fervent heat and we await a new heaven and earth. In the gospels Jesus also speaks about ‘the end of the world’ the word for world does not mean the planet, but the age. Just like when the bible says ‘satan is the god of this world’ it speaks of age, not earth. So a careful reading of the ‘end of the world’ verses show us that there will be a future time of cleansing ‘by fire’ that will usher in a new age/order. Preterists [those who believe the future judgment scenarios were speaking of a.d. 70 and the end of the old order of the law] take these verses to mean that God was ending ‘the old order/age of law and bringing in a new age of grace’ I see partial truth to this, but don’t fully accept that there is no future aspect to it. The futurists [dispensationalists] see a destruction of the world and sometimes allow this view to effect their responsibility to the planet and society at large ‘heck, why worry about the environment and future stuff, it’s all coming to an end soon’ type mentality. Some, not all, have this mindset. The Preterists think the Futurists have made a fatal mistake in misreading the verses that should say ‘age’ instead of ‘world’. There are very good points that the Preterists make, though I don’t fully embrace everything they have to say. Overall we see that God wanted to reassure man that he was not going to totally wipe the earth out again like he did in the past. Whether you see the future fire burning up the elements as some sort of nuclear thing [I don’t] or a reference to the glory of Jesus burning up the chaff at his return, the important thing to remember is God wanted man to know that the natural order of day and night would go on, and a new heaven and earth would continue to exist for all eternity. The mindset of ‘don’t give up on the mandate to have dominion and care for the planet’ was being instilled in Noah and his sons. I think it would do the evangelical church some good if we looked more seriously at some of these issues.
(1145) THE FLOOD- Okay, this is a hot topic. First, the flood really happened! Some old earth creationists insist on a local version of it, others say it was worldwide [I’m in the world wide camp]. God tells Noah to embark on a very long building program. He certainly looks like a nut to those around him. Eventually the Ark is finished and Noah and his family get in, they bring 7 of every clean animal and 2 of every ‘unclean’ type. It rains [some say 40 days and nights, others think it rained longer] and the ‘fountains of the deep are opened up’ obviously a reference to some type of Tectonic action. After everything dies, the Ark rests and Noah and his family repopulate the planet. The young earth creationists have good arguments from this story [real event!] some of the old earth brothers tend to trivialize it. Ever since the science of geology gained ground [19th-20th centuries] many have argued for a very old earth based on the geologic table. They look at the different strata of the earth [levels] and say ‘see, these levels took millions of years to develop, you have dinosaurs buried in the lower levels, then other types of animals, birds and then man is rarely found fossilized’ these brothers see a sort of scientific record that backs up the progressive creation view. They say the creation days are ages, and the science shows us deep time. Are there any other explanations for the various fossil levels? Yes. The young earth brothers will make a very good argument that the cataclysmic effect of the flood caused the levels. They say the reason you find dinosaurs and other land animals at lower levels is a result of natural panic and survival during the flood. The slower, heavier animals would die first and get buried first. The birds lasted longer of course; they kept flying to high land until they too died off. Man was the smartest of the bunch, he managed to survive longest, and that’s why you don’t find as many fossils of man as you do other creatures [those who die late would not get covered in sediment and would simply rot!] This argument isn’t that bad, to be honest. There are of course many other things besides this, the point I want to make is if you rule out the biblical record of a world wide flood, then you are leaving out other interpretations of the data. Most young and old earth brothers agree on the actual record [i.e.; we do see things buried at different levels] they simply disagree on the interpretation of the data. Lets do a few practical things here, God had Noah prepare things ahead of time. He also spent some down time in a huge boat with a ‘lot of dung’ [ouch!] Often times on the journey we hit spots that don’t look [or smell] that great. People might even mock us ‘look at that idiot Noah, he’s even got his family believing in this stuff!’ but when it was all said and done he was vindicated. Those who tend to spiritualize the stories of Genesis usually see the first 11 chapters as a mix of symbol and history. The genealogies of chapters 4, 5 and 11 are sometimes seen as not exact [by the way, in the last entry I used Enoch as an example of the ascension, the Enoch who was taken up was the Enoch of chapter 5]. The reasons are various [like the other ancient near east genealogies used 10 generation lists, both chapter 5 and 11 are 10 generation lists]. Some do this in order to fit more time into the biblical record. Jesus, Peter and the writer of Hebrews all speak of Noah and his flood as a real historic event! There should be no reason for believers to doubt or spiritualize these stories away. But we also want to be open to the reality that other cultures had their own tellings of these stories, and that the recording of genealogies does not mean there is no room for an older earth [the genealogies are accurate, but they don’t start right at the beginning of time!]. And let’s finish in a practical way, are you going thru a season of feeling stuck in a big box with a lot of dung? Sometimes the word of the Lord to us is ‘just survive at this time, when the storms over things will look better again’. The Lord used Noah to have an influence on the entire civilization that would re-populate the planet! God will increase your influence if you simply find a way to survive the flood.
(1144) CAIN AND ABEL- After the fall of man, God kicks him out of the garden and he loses intimacy with God. Eventually Eve has kids and Cain kills Abel his brother. In Hebrews 11 and 1st John we read the story. Abel brought an animal offering, Cain brought from the fruit of the ground. Some say this was a comparison between Jesus [typified in Abel’s sacrificial animal] and the law [Cain’s work of his hands, the ground]. Maybe so? Hebrews says God accepted Abel’s offering because it was in faith and rejected Cain. Cain got jealous and killed his brother, the first recorded murder in the bible. Cain has a son named Enoch [which means teacher- rabbi] he builds a city and names it after his son [God is building us, the city of God- we are named after his son, the Body of Christ] and Enoch will eventually be caught up bodily into heaven [a type of the ascension]. The skeptics often ask ‘where did Cain get his wife’? The most likely answer would be from his extended family. There was no rule against marrying your kin back then, so this sounds reasonable to me. But wait! The skeptic says because we don’t know for sure where Cain got his wife, therefore atheism is true. They then will tell you where all people really came from. Around 15 billion years ago nothing existed [not even God] and from this point of nothing something exploded into existence [without an exploder!] eventually the earth showed up and it rained on the earth for millions of years. Somehow the rain on the rocks produced this soupy mixture [primordial soup] that all by itself produced the first living cell. After millions of more years man showed up. Yeah brother, that explanation sure puts to shame the Cain and his wife thing! The story of Cain warns us of the danger of jealousy, comparing ourselves with others. Putting pressure on people to make things happen so you look better. I recently read a story about a mega church [not in Corpus] and they went thru a few years of battles. They were building a new expensive building; the pastor put pressure on the people to give. Some of the people felt like they were always being challenged to give more money. Then word got out that the Pastor bought expensive gifts for his friends with church money, 3-4 thousand dollar suits and jewelry. He was flying all over the world at great expense, doing public speaking and stuff. It was a big mess, lawsuits entailed and relationships ruined. From what I read about it in the news paper stories that were on line, it seemed like there were mistakes on both sides, both the church leadership and those who wanted to expose it. The bigger problem is this basic style of church, the high powered world traveling leader, spending lots of money on seemingly okay things. The people being supporters of the gifts and persona of the charismatic personality [whether thru media or personal travel] this whole system is being rightfully challenged at the present time by a new generation of community minded believers who see that this high powered style of an individual leader is not the pattern of church found in the New Testament. Often time’s jealousy can be a factor on both sides of these issues, but we also need to understand that there are legitimate challenges against this whole expression of church. Most of all we want to avoid taking things into our own hands, trying to personally stop what we might perceive as wrong. Cain was jealous; he allowed his rage to lead him to the killing of his own brother. He might have gotten rid of the thing he felt was an obstacle, but he would live with the guilt for the rest of his life.
(1143) THE FALL- God puts man in the garden, he gives him only one restriction ‘don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil’ sure enough, he does! The serpent [satan] tempts Eve in 3 areas, the tree is good for food [lust of the flesh] good to look at [eyes] and can make you wise [pride]. In 1st John 2 we see these three areas mentioned as the common categories of all other temptation. These were the same areas the devil used on Jesus in Matthew 4. The temptation to Eve essentially said ‘look at this God of yours! He wont give you the freedom to do anything you want, he is withholding such a good tree from you’ sounds like the philosopher Freud, he taught that the problem with man was Gods restrictions. That if man would cast off the limits that religion imposed upon them, then all would be well. But what man did not know was that these basic limits were for his own good. When man would choose to walk out from under Gods limits, he would suffer for it. In this chapter [Gen. 3] we also see the great prophecy of the child of the woman eventually crushing the serpents head [called the Protoevangelium- Latin] a prophecy about Christ’s future victory at the Cross. God also covers man with animal’s skins, a type of the future sacrifice of Christ on behalf of man. Man tried to cover up with leaves, God said it wont do, so he sacrificed the life of an animal and used the skins as a covering. The wages of sin is death, the price was paid. In Romans chapter 5 Paul will show us that death and sin passed upon all mankind from Adams sinful act, but thru the obedience of one man [Jesus dying on the Cross] righteousness comes to those who believe. This is the basic Christian doctrine of original sin. Some refer to this as the federal head theory of redemption. I believe it’s vital for Christians to have a grasp of this doctrine. In the 19th/20th centuries you had liberal theologians deny the doctrine of Jesus dying on behalf of man. Along with this they also denied that original sin existed. Most believers realized that this denial was heresy and avoided it, but some are playing with the idea again. The bible clearly teaches the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ on the behalf of man [Isaiah 53] and it is a foundational doctrine for all true believers. To some it seemed unfair to charge God with the doctrine of original sin, and along with it the doctrine of Penal substitution [Christ being punished for us] these are core Christian truths, if people want to deny them, that’s their choice. But to be a Christian in the biblical sense of the word, these truths are necessary, they are part of the foundation of all true Christian churches.
(1142) MAN, GODS UNIQUE CREATION- Okay, we already saw how God made the animals and fish and birds, but when he describes mans creation he shows us that it is unique. Out of all the other created things, man alone is in ‘Gods image’ and bears his likeness. Man is a moral being with a built in conscience, he has the capacity to know God and live with him forever. This is the basis of the Judeao Christian value on human life. Those religions who believe in the Genesis account of creation, see man as having special value. The Darwinian worldview [social Darwinism] sees man as a simple blob of meaningless flesh, no different than the other life forms along the line. I always found the atheists reasoning to be a little illogical; they will argue that they are the real intellectuals, the so called ‘brights’ [a recent term they have come up with to describe their group] they will then explain to you how their view of their mind and brain is purely naturalistic, their brains are simply these jumbled masses of cells that are the result of thousands of years of meaningless process. Their whole being started as an accident, they have no initial purpose or final end. They see themselves, and along with it, all their reasoning and education and knowledge as being the result of years and years of luck and chance, and then they want you to trust in their conclusions! Ah, the utter foolishness of mans wisdom. God formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed into him his own breath and man became a living soul. Though the basic material of man is the same as the other material things God made, yet he only breathed his own image into man. The great 17th century philosopher/mathematician Blaise Pascal was reading the gospel of John one night, he was meditating on John 17 and had an awakening, he began to see that God was ‘the God of Jesus’ not the God of the philosophers. He saw that having a real relationship with God was different than simply knowing the things about him. God built into man the capacity to know him, while all other creatures are valuable and special to him [Jesus said not even a little sparrow dies without God caring about it!] yet man alone has the capacity to know and be in true communion with his creator, man was created in Gods image.
(1141) UNIFORM OR CATASTROPHE ? One of the key verses in the debate between young and old earth creationism is in 2nd Peter chapter 3. Peter says that in the last days scoffers will doubt two specific things; the second coming and the flood of Noah’s day. I find it interesting that some theories on the long age of the earth also incorporate a local flood for Noah’s day. The young earth guys will use the Peter verse to show that if you purposefully rule out a world wide flood from your theory, that you fall into the snare of viewing certain scientific data [geologic table] as being a result of millions/billions of years of gradual uniform time [uniformitarianism] as opposed to being a result of the flood. The young earth brothers point to the fact that much of the fossil evidence and geologic column [like the Grand Canyon] can be a result of the universal flood. These brothers see the catastrophe [catastrophism] of the flood as the cause for these things. Does Peter [or any other bible passage] shed light on this subject? Yes, even though the bible does not speak to us in scientific language, it is reliable on all the things it does speak about; history, events like a flood, the future judgment, the second coming, etc. So it is important to not rule out the effects that a worldwide flood might have had on the data. Do we have any examples of the bible referring to worldwide things, and not really meaning ‘the whole world’? Yes, in Acts 2 the bible says there were people gathered from ‘every nation under heaven’ at the time, but the chapter gives us the nations that were there, there were obviously no people from America! So does ‘every nation’ simply mean every nation from the known world of the time? Yes. So some local flood believers use this type of stuff to defend their view. We do need to be careful when doing theology like this. Does the biblical account give us other clues that the flood was worldwide? Sure, why in the world would God have Noah build a huge ark, gather all these animals, have them in it for a long time while the earth floods. If the flood was regional, just tell the guy to move! The biblical account says the waters covered the highest mountains of the day, this could not happen unless the flood was world wide. So even though the bible does say ‘world wide/all nations’ at times in a non literal way, this does not mean we can change all the events described as world wide into local events. Some who read the first few chapters of Genesis in a poetic language way, also have the problem of deciding when the poetry stops! Is the Genesis 6 account of a flood real? What about the tower of Babel in chapter 11? Once you start going down the road of over spiritualizing the bible, you can run into problems. Overall I believe we need to be open and willing to see both sides of this argument [young and old earth views] there is somewhat of a tendency to view opposing views as real heresy [I sense this mostly from some of the young earth writers]. But there is also a condescending attitude towards young earth believers that at times seems to say ‘how can you be so behind the times in your views’? This debate on the age of the earth and the various progressive stages of evolutionary progress [cosmological evolution- stars producing basic elements over billions of years and these things ‘birthing’ planets and so forth] these theories are in no way definite! There are a lot of things that we simply don’t know for sure. But at the same time there are and have been true scientific breakthroughs that have challenged the mindset of the church and have corrected the church’s view in certain areas. As believers we need to hear both sides, while avoiding the warning of Peter who did say that there would be scoffers who purposefully would overlook the historical event of the flood of Noah’s day, we must let scripture form our views, while at the same time understanding that the bible does not give us a scientific explanation for all things.
(1140) CREATION DAY 7- On the seventh day God rested and enjoyed what he had made. This does not mean he was tired, or that he ceased from activity. But is shows us the process and ways of God. When you read the parables of Jesus he often uses land and seed analogies to explain God’s kingdom ‘the kingdom is like planting a seed’ and stuff like that. God rested because it was his purpose to initiate the first 6 days of creation and for that creation to be self sustaining/propagating [under his sovereignty]. It’s important to see this aspect of creation. In chapter 1 God chose to use the words ‘let the waters bring forth’ and ‘let the ground bring forth’ when speaking of land and sea creatures. Why not simply ‘let there be animals, fish’? It seems as if God himself is leaving some room here for a reading of the text that has more to it than meets the eye. Does this mean the Progressive creationists are right? [or theistic evolutionists] not necessarily, but is shows us that there is some language in the text itself that shows a sort of ‘co-operative effort’ where God caused the initial base elements to ‘bring forth’ life. Some see this as God using simple language to describe deep scientific truths that would be found thru out the ages. Some equate this language with deep time ideas [old earth]. Also in chapter 2 we see the Lord describe the entire creation event as happening in ‘a day’ [singular]. This simply meaning ‘at the time period’ the young earth creationists are correct in pointing out that this does not mean the first 6 [or 7] days were not literal 24 hour periods. Scripture does use the word Day to speak figuratively at times; the ‘day of the Lord’ and stuff like that [meaning both a day and a time period]. But the point can be made that very early on [Gen 2] God chooses to use the word Day in the singular to describe the entire event. Also the writer of Hebrews will ‘spiritualize’ the phrase ‘and God rested on the seventh day’ to describe the age of grace, the new covenant ‘rest of God’ [read my Hebrews commentary, chapter 4- To be honest I don’t remember what I said at the time, but I’m sure I must have explained it!]. Once again, this would not necessarily leave the door open for a symbolic, non literal reading of day 7. But it shows us the various ways other new testament teachers used these scriptures, they were not afraid of applying them in theological ways. Of course we can get into trouble if we carry this too far. In the early days of the church you had the Alexandrian school, a great 3rd century Christian school, that adopted a highly symbolic way of reading scripture. The famous teacher Origen would head up the school at one point. He taught a type of spiritual interpretation of the bible that had 4 meanings to it, it was a little [or way] overboard to be honest about it, but the school was very influential. Eventually saint Augustine would embrace many of these ideas. Augustine was a titan in the early church and has been said to have had more influence in the later centuries of the church than any other teacher next to the apostle Paul! So we have had somewhat of a history at how far we should go when reading these texts. I would simply point out that there is some room here, early on in the bible, to see that even a straight forward reading of the text leaves room for some progressive ideas, some ‘spiritualizing’ of certain aspects, and a certain feel for the text that seems to say ‘there’s more going on here than initially meets the eye’. This does not mean we should abandon a literal view of the days, but shows us that God can use natural, normal days and extend his ideas to us in a manifold way [like Jesus use of the seed in his parables- real seeds, greater meaning]. Also the text shows us that God created the heavens and earth first and used language that said ‘let the waters/ground bring forth’ showing us that all other things were made from the basic stuff of the original heavens and earth. Does natural science go along with this? Yes, science shows us that all the base elements of all things come from the initial base elements that were used in the creation of the material world [The 90 or so elements found in the periodic table- hey, it’s been a long time since high school!] So even science itself would agree with the biblical record! How would the writer of Genesis have known this at such a pre scientific time? These things testify of the Divine nature of scripture itself. So we need not abandon a literal view, but we also see there is room for more than initially meets the eye.
(1139) CREATION DAYS 2-6 There are various views on these days; of course the literal view, each day is a 24 hour day that ends with the description of ‘evening and morning’. The symbolic view would argue that there was no ‘real’ evening and morning until day 4, because on day 4 God made the sun. So an ‘evening and morning’ that would be measured by the earth’s rotation as it relates to the sun [solar day] could not happen in a literal sense. These see certain poetic elements in these verses. A repetition of certain phrases- evening and morning, let there be, God said. These repetitive phrases show a stylized Hebrew narrative. It should be noted that this argument is true, whether you believe in the literal or figurative reading. It is still possible to have this type of stylized element, while at the same time speaking a real historic narrative. Another interesting view is called The Framework Theory. This view has been around since the early 20th century. It’s a topical view of the creation days. It sees the first 3 days and the 2nd set of three days as basically describing the same time frame. Basically this view says that God simply used the ‘framework’ of the 7 day week to give to man a real historic explanation of creation, but God used the framework of the 7 day week in a symbolic way for mans benefit. This view will compare day 1 [the first day of the first 3 day set] with day 4 [the first day of the second 3 day set]. Day one has God creating light, day 4 has the sun and stars. This view says these are 2 descriptions of the same creation act. The light from day one comes from the luminaries in day 4. Day 2 coincides with day 5. Day 2 has the heavens appear when God divides the waters [heaven and sea] day 5 [the second day of the second set] has the things that fill the heavens and seas- birds and sea creatures. Day 3 has land and vegetation, day 6 has land animals and man- things that eat the vegetation and walk the earth. It’s interesting, though not exact. You could see the seas as being part of day 3, and as you read both creation accounts [Genesis 1 and 2] there is a mixture of when things showed up. Are there other explanations for why the account in chapter 2 differs from chapter one? [chapter one has man being made after the animals, chapter 2 shows Adam before the animals, God brings the animals to show Adam, he sees nothing fitting for him and God then makes Eve]. Some see a purposeful inconsistency, put in the text by God himself, to show man that this was not to be taken in a literal, consecutive way. Sort of like the critics of the gospels, they will find various inconsistencies in the gospel narratives, like one gospel having two angels at the tomb, the other showing one. The critics say ‘see, inconsistent’ but the other argument can say if you had exact testimony from various eyewitness accounts in a courtroom, this would not convince the jury that their testimony was true, to the contrary it would indicate that the witnesses were coached. So the various different details might be actual clues to the validity of the gospel writers! So in Genesis, some feel there are purposeful poetic structures and differing accounts for the purpose of telling the reader ‘don’t take this too literal’. I don’t personally hold to this, but do see the point. It should be noted that in Exodus 20 and 31 Moses will speak about the creation days as historical narrative. No matter which view a person takes [literal or symbolic] the fact that creation itself happened by the hand of God is an undeniable fact of history and science. All things could not have come from nothing, there had to be an initial cause some where down the line. This initial cause himself had to have had no beginning [logic and science show this] and it just so happens that these attributes belong to the God of the bible, even before we knew that creation needed an initiator that possessed them!
(1138) CREATION DAY 1- In Genesis 1:1-5 we have the first recording of Gods creative acts, over the years Christians have struggled with this text. One of the main reasons believers ‘struggle’ with it is because modern scientific understanding [majority view- not all!] indicates that the earth is quite a lot older than 6 thousand years. Some scholars believe that the church has been duped into believing in old earth science and because of there acceptance of science, above Gods word, they have come to compromise Gods word. A simple reading of the first 5 verses of Genesis tell us that ‘in the beginning’ God made the heaven and the earth. At this point, God is not constrained to a time/space continuum of ‘day’ [the Hebrew word Yom]. The day itself will be created in this time period called ‘in the beginning’. God will create light and separate the light from the darkness and call this ‘day’. I see the possibility of there being a very long period of time having passed at this point, at least according to this text [we will look at Exodus 20:11 in a moment]. I do not see a need to create a ‘gap theory’ between verse one and verse two, some theorize that you had an entire pre adamic world, that God judged this world and this is how they explain the long age of the earth. I believe that a simple reading of the first five verses could go like this ‘at the start of all things, God made the heaven and the earth [no day constraint yet] and he also made light and dark [now we are getting into Gods cycle for man] and he saw that all these things were good. He made the day itself at this time, and the day became mans measurement of time’. Now, this is my paraphrase on how this text could be read. I do find it interesting that out of all the scholars I am presently reading on this subject, none of them are making this simple point; that the 24 hour day constraint was itself created ‘in the beginning’. Now, exodus 20:11 does say that God made all things in ‘6 days’, this verse seems to indicate that there was a time constraint to the actual making of the heaven and earth ‘in the beginning’ so to be fair to both sides [young and old earth creationists] I had to throw this in. Jesus also refers to the creation of man as an historical event [as opposed to a theistic evolutionary view] he says ‘in the beginning God made them male and female, and for this cause a man leaves his parents and is joined to his wife’ the young earth brothers will use this to show that Jesus believed that God created man ‘in the beginning’ as opposed to there being billions of years passing before man showed up [which is also a progressive view of creation- a sort of joining together the timeline of long age science with the Genesis account]. The point I would make is if God created time at ‘this point in time’ then the phrase ‘in the beginning’ could refer to thousands, or millions of years all being ‘at the start’ [compared to forever!]. I do not hold to a ‘progressive view’ myself, I simply believe that a plain reading of the first 5 verses of Genesis shows that the time constraint of day [Yom] was itself created at this time. The Exodus verse does seem to say that all the events of Gods creative acts did fit into the time/space of 6 days, but this first Genesis reading seems to leave room for a longer period of ‘one day’ when speaking of the creation of heaven and earth. While the young earth creationists do seem to fault the old earth creationists for trying to make scripture fit into current scientific theories of the earths age, I would like to point out the fact that both sides [young and old earth groups] see the first 3 days as distinct from all the other days that have occurred since that time. All agree that the sun was not the original light source for the first three days [well, some believe God was not giving us an exact consecutive recording of creation. So these see the sun as being the source of light for all the creation days] the charge could be made that even the young earth creationists are admitting that some of the creation days are not ‘days’ in the classical sense of the word. These first days were not solar days! The whole point is we do find some room for the interpretation of the creation days as having some areas that we don’t fully understand, or at least we don’t know all that was going on in a scientific sense [was the light for the first three days God himself? Possible. But then that would leave the door open that God created himself! A much greater theological heresy than the long earth view!]. I also believe that the fact that ‘the day’ itself was said to have been created by God ‘in the beginning’ leaves much room for a longer time period of the earths age. Out of all the other ancient near east [A.N.E] stories of creation, none of them have ‘a god’ who himself transcends time and space and actually created time itself. For thousands of years the common belief was that either matter itself always existed, or that time always existed. So the competing stories of creation found in other cultures have a god that was himself formed from matter, or creation itself was a process of these dependant gods fighting each other. No other view has a god that transcends time and space and actually creates time and space. It wasn’t until the 20th century that science itself proved this to be a fact, Einstein’s theories on time and space gave us proof that all things did have a starting point [big bang cosmology]. So anyway, in the coming weeks I might hit on these things a little more, but for today I wanted to emphasize that a simple, literal reading of Genesis 1:1-5 does show us that God created ‘the day’ [the actual time measurement that man goes by] during his initial act of creation. God himself was not ‘bound’ or constrained to the time/space continuum, he actually made the time/space continuum at ‘the time’.
(1137) Not sure which way to go, either the danger we are in right now as a country; that both sides [right and left] seem to be going to extremes, some wanting failure for the purpose of feeling vindicated. Or the liberal side that seems to always overlook the devastation of late term abortions. Never able to actually see and realize that we are actually dismembering real babies, babies that cry and squirm and wince on screen as they actually have taken pictures of this horrible act! Of course the murder of the man who engaged in this act for 5 thousand dollars a shot was wrong, very wrong. But the act itself is still horrendous! Both sides [right and left] are truly wanting the failure of the other side, even if it means national disaster! Bad stuff indeed. Okay, recently I have been reading up on the various views of Genesis and the recording of creation. Some scholars see the reality of other ancient near east [A.N.E] stories about a flood and creation, that have similar things to the biblical account, they see this as a key to understanding the Genesis account [I don’t fully hold to this myself]. While it’s interesting to note that some of these other stories have similarities [7 days are used frequently, the story of a man building a boat and saving his family as the world floods] and some of these stories existed before the Genesis account was written [around 1500 years B.C.] this in and of itself does not cast doubt on the biblical version. So what was the reaction to those who found out that these other stories had similarities to Genesis, and were written before Genesis? Some saw this as a clue to understanding the Genesis account; for instance they would say that when Moses recorded the Genesis account, he was a man influenced by his time and culture, so he obviously wrote in a sort of symbolic way, a style that he knew would be understood by the culture of his day. These scholars don’t reject the belief that creation did happen by God, they are simply trying to resolve some of the seeming problems [like God creating light on day 1, while the sun wasn’t created until day 4!] and feel there are some answers by using this paradigm. How else could you resolve the fact that other cultures [Babylonian, Egyptian] actually had their own stories of creation and a flood, before Genesis was written? Well the other possibility is that if Genesis is telling us the literal truth, that all people came from Adam [and later Noah] and that a great flood occurred, and that God really did make everything in 7 days, if these things really happened [by the way, I believe they did!] then why would you think it strange that the Babylonians and Egyptians had their own telling of these events, the other explanation for these other cultures having their own stories about these things is that these things really did happen to them! If all people really did come from Adam, then every culture would eventually have some type of telling of these stories passed along thru their culture. The possibility that some of these stories would be recorded before Genesis, does not diminish at all from the biblical account. No where in scripture does it tell us that the bible is the only book that would ever record the events of creation or a worldwide flood. The way people view these various truths depends a lot on their pre conceived mindsets. If you lean towards skepticism, then you tend towards seeing these things as ‘aha, I knew the bible was fake all along’ but if you lean towards a real belief in scripture, you could see it like the way I just showed you. In the future I will tackle some more of these issues [like light being created before the sun] and will try and give you both sides of the debate. But for now I wanted to just drop this in, to give your mind some things to chew on. The over spiritualizing of the creation account can be dangerous, Paul and Jesus both use the creation account in their teachings as historical narrative! In Romans Paul even says ‘like death entered into the world by one mans disobedience [Adam] we receive eternal life thru one mans obedience [Jesus]’ so to over spiritualize the creation account can be problematic. But even the literalists have some hurdles to overcome when reading the account. Most of all we know we can trust God’s word, and if there are portions of it that are Prose, Narrative, History or Phenomenological in language, this does not mean the Word of Gods is not true.
- THOUGHTS FROM GENESIS- Been reading Genesis 12-22. I felt like the Lord wanted me to overview some stuff. Paul will quote the account in Gen: 15 [and 12] a lot. ‘The just shall live by faith’ is oft mentioned in the New Testament. He uses Abraham as an argument for Justification by Faith. Both Romans and Galatians are masterpieces at this. In my first book ‘House of Prayer or Den of Thieves’ I wrote a chapter titled ‘the Abrahamic Blessing’. I tried to undue a false teaching that arose out of the prosperity movement that taught the ‘Abrahamic Blessing’ was believers being promised material stuff. If you read the chapter [Galatians 3] you will see the Abrahamic blessing to mean Gods promise to Abraham that he would bless the whole world thru his child [seed]. Paul uses this to combat the Judiazers who were teaching you get saved by the law. Paul in essence says ‘God promised Abraham that he would bless [in context, to ‘Justify’ and give the Spirit to those who have faith] the world thru his child [Jesus] long before he gave the law to Moses’. And being God can’t lie, the first promise [to Abraham] is stronger than the second promise to Moses [Law]. Good stuff! But a false teaching twists the ‘promise’ and says ‘see, Paul says we are Abraham’s kids [true] and therefore we get his blessings’ [stuff] false! There are many reasons why it is false, but if your Pastor simply reads scripture in context, he will lead you right. I have grown ‘weary’ over the years in trying to correct this stuff. I have come to the conclusion that many well meaning Pastors/Teachers should have never had the large area of influence [media] due to the ‘basic’ level of thought they were functioning at. I want to be kind, but many of these doctrines are propagated because the mass of teaching going out is by brothers who simply can’t grasp scripture in context. Now, they are not all bad! But if your Pastor can’t see that the same writer of Galatians would also write 1st Timothy 6, and say ‘false teachers will rise in the last days, teaching gain is godliness. Turn away from them’ the fact that Paul connects false prophets to those who connect money with ‘godliness’ shows you that Paul is not teaching the Galatians that they were going to get rich because they had faith! Simple stuff, but the average teacher that can’t see or discern this should not be teaching on TV![or radio]. Because they wind up propagating stuff that is false. That’s why James says ‘don’t all try to be teachers, you will be held to a higher standard’. There seems to be a mindset in Christian ministry that says ‘The goal of our ‘church’ is to raise as much money as possible, expand our influence as far as possible, and have our Pastors message go to the ends of the earth’. This causes there to be a basic violation of ‘not many of you should be teachers’. Or a rush to get your words out! Now, God does ordain certain voices at certain times to have great influence. And it is fine for all ministers to try and get the gospel out as much a possible. But when I hear these national voices teach the most obvious mistakes, I think ‘surely these guys are not supposed to be teaching on this level’! So in Abraham’s story, the Lord tells him ‘I am going to bless the whole planet thru your seed’. God is giving us glimpses of Jesus Christ and his purpose to bring blessing to the whole world thru him. Have you been ‘blessed’ [born again] thru Abrahams seed?
- GENESIS 12: 1-3 ‘The Lord 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 SHOW THEE. And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great; [God will do it, not him!] 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’. The blessing is contingent upon Abraham going on a pilgrimage, for his entire life! Jesus said a prophet has no honor in his home town and among his own family. Over the years I have seen many gifted men along the way. Many still live WITH THEIR PARENTS. Or have a family situation where their wife IS THE PARENT. They have never ‘launched out’ and become responsible adults. There came a time in Abrahams life where the Lord said ‘you must leave your familiar surroundings, in order to become a great nation of people, you must leave the comfortable nation [environment] that you are trusting’. Some times all it takes is a willingness to get up and begin the journey. It’s scary at first, but no adventure is 100 % safe! Notice the Lord also informs him that he WILL FACE OPPOSITION! Those [plural] who are for him will be there. And HIM [singular] that is against thee shall also be there. God promises there are more on your side than on the critic’s side! Hey, they might only be invisible angels [Elijah, Elisha] but God says the numbers are on your side. The enemy often uses this ploy against you. ‘Hey, everyone thinks you are a failure, what are you still doing trying to finish Gods work!’ These were the accusations that Nehemiah would hear. That everyone is talking about what a mess the whole thing is. ‘Who does he think he is anyway’? Who cares what they think! We will ALL be dead and gone in a few years, the voices of opposition will be gone. The only thing that will matter then is what you did with a sincere and noble heart. At least you will have some rewards coming, the critics will only ‘have words’.
- GENESIS 12- Abraham goes into the Promised Land. God begins appearing to him, and Abraham builds an altar and calls on the Lord. A key principle to ‘possessing your land’ is responding right! Each time you move forward in the journey it is imperative that you ‘hear God’. He must ‘appear to you’ in some way [thru scripture, prophetic direction, etc] and your response should be prayer. This sequence of events will take place more than one time with Abraham and his kids. Though they are strangers in the land, each time God appears to them they set up ‘outposts’ [altars] for the Kingdom. Altars are places of prayer and sacrifice. They are ‘contact points’ between heaven and earth. Abrahams grandson, Jacob, will ‘set up one’ at Bethel [house of God] and have a dream of angels ascending and descending on a Ladder. Which of course is a type of the Cross. Abraham goes into Egypt and commits a familiar sin that he will pass on to his kids. The famous ‘this is my sister, not my wife’ deal. Pharaoh takes her and God curses Pharaoh and Pharaoh rebukes Abraham for lying out of fear. Isaac will do the same later on. Notice in this chapter the Lord told Abraham to ‘leave his family and go into a new place’ did he fully obey? Not really. He takes Lot [nephew] with him. Of course he was to take his wife, but I am not sure if he fudged on the Lot You will notice later that as soon as he separates from Lot that the Lord begins reaffirming the promise to him. I kinda get the feeling that things were put on hold until he fully obeyed. One of the things we will see in Abraham’s life, was though he was a great man of faith. Yet he struggled like everyone else. He still clung to stuff out of fear. We end this chapter with Abraham going up out of Egypt, a short excursion and lesson in disobedience. Some of these early failures will plague his future dynasty!
- GENESIS 13- Abraham leaves Egypt and the scripture says HE WAS VERY RICH! One of the things we want to do as we review these chapters is to rightly divide the word of God. The church went thru an ‘immature’ level of thinking and teaching. She [the church!] saw all these truths on God blessing Abraham. The many true verses on ‘the blessing of the Lord, it makes rich and he adds no sorrow to it’ ‘the Lord gives you power to get wealth that he may establish his covenant in the earth’ and all the other truths on God meeting the needs of his kids and blessing them. But the teachers went overboard and taught a doctrine of a rich Jesus who died to make you rich. They would become the false prophets that Paul would warn Timothy about in 1st Timothy 6. So here we want to see and understand that the Lord blessed Abraham and did make him rich. We also want to balance this with all the teachings of Jesus on ‘beware of covetousness, for a mans life consisteth not in the abundance of the things he possesses’ ‘you can not serve God and money’ ‘the love of money is the root of all evil, while some have gone after it they have left the faith’ [Paul]. All of these scriptures are true, not just the ones we like the most! In this chapter Abraham separates from Lot and the lord reaffirms his promise to him. It seems like God was waiting on Abraham to ‘fully leave his family’ like the earlier verse said ‘get thee out of thy country AND FROM THY KINDRED’ here he finally left ‘the kindred’ and God said ‘now lets keep going’! Sometimes the only thing holding us back is full obedience. You don’t need to re do everything! Just bring some stuff back into alignment. Also after the Egypt ‘side trail’ Abraham renews his ‘first love’ and reconnects with God at bethel, but then moves to another spot and builds another altar. This chapter says ‘he went on his journeys’. God didn’t want Abraham to go stagnant, enjoy the area around the first altar and never advance. The purpose for Abraham was to be a father of MANY NATIONS. You can’t do that if your comfortable just settling down on the street corner and ‘pastoring your little flock’ [ouch!]. God wants us to ‘go on journeys’. I am not saying there are not times where ‘Pastoring the flock’ is OK. But the modern church goes to extremes. She either wants to build huge 20 thousand seat auditoriums [which tends to lead to a spectator mentality] or preach to 30 people at a time! God’s purpose is to impact all of society with the gospel. Jesus gospel was bigger than the one we embrace today. Hey, if you really enjoyed God’s presence at ‘Bethel’ just wait until you get to the next altar! Don’t forget Bethel [your first love] but you have a nation [nations!] to inherit!
- GENESIS 14- Abraham goes after the kings who took Lot He takes his 318 trained men and gets Lot and the rest of the spoils from the invading armies. When Abraham brings the stuff back to the King of Sodom, the king tells Abraham ‘take all the goods as well’. Abraham refuses and takes only his expenses. You also find Abraham later on paying for the burial site for Sarah and his family. Even though the people wanted to give it as a ‘tax free gift’! It is important to see that although Abraham was rich, he often refused free handouts! The problem with the church today is you have too many Preachers who see the truths on Abraham being rich and they mix it with a message that says ‘sow seed into my ministry, don’t disobey God!’ it is taught in a way that violates the whole character of Abraham. If you want the lord to bless you, reexamine the way your are expecting it. Abraham would not take free stuff! The church needs to teach prosperity in balance with all the other principles of diligence and giving to God and being smart investors and AVOIDING FREE GIFTS! This mode of operation will be found in the life of Abraham more than once!
- GENESIS 15- Abraham has been living for a bunch of years since God told him ‘you will have lots of kids, great nations and peoples’ yet he hasn’t had any children yet! You begin to see the natural mind working. Abraham suggests that one of his servants might become the promised ‘seed’. It was not uncommon for a father with no natural children to give the inheritance to a servant. Scripture says a wise servant will rule over a foolish son. Remember the movie ‘Gladiator’? The King/father chooses the Roman gladiator [Crowe] over the son. So Abraham is thinking maybe this is Gods plan. He will do this later with Ishmael as well. A son born from him, but not from Sarah. The Lord will have to keep reaffirming the original vision, so Abraham will have to trust. Also scripture says ‘the word of the Lord came to Abraham in a vision’. Let’s do a quick study. The New Testament teaches faith comes by hearing and ‘hearing by the Word of the Lord’. In the book of Acts the phrase ‘they preached the Word’ appears. Paul says ‘all scripture is given by inspiration of God’. What exactly is ‘the word of the Lord’? While you certainly can apply it to our bible, yet Paul will use this phrase before the New Testament was complete. The preaching in Acts was ‘the word’ yet they had no bibles like we have today. What is the ‘all scripture’ Paul is speaking of? It is specifically the promised ‘word’ that was fulfilled thru Messiah as the completion of the revelation of God to man. This certainly included the Old Testament, but it was more specific. The preaching in Acts was focused on Jesus being the fulfillment of the promise that all Israel was waiting for. So ‘the word of the Lord’ is not simply some general belief in scripture [though it is good to have this belief!] but it is belief in the promise and revealed will of God to you thru out your life. It is the thing you have been waiting for, as revealed by God to you. If you will, it is the actual vision of God for your life. When you believe and see the purpose of God for you, you will have momentum and a dynamic that can not be achieved thru other means. When God calls you and reveals his will to you, you must reattach to this purpose thru out your life. Even in Abraham’s doubts, he is still trying to figure out how to complete the mission! The whole ‘let my servant be the son’ or later on ‘let Ishmael live before thee’ are doubts that are arising out of his determination to see ‘the word of the lord’ [Gods original promise to him] fulfilled! So I want to encourage you to do a little housecleaning. Have things moved so fast [or slow!] in your life that you have lost the original purpose? Are you spending your time doing things that are not primarily connected to your destiny in God? Re attach to the original purpose. In verse 6 Abraham believes God again and it is accounted unto him for righteousness. God is still wanting you to believe him to bring it to pass!
- GENESIS 16- Abraham is around 85 years old. He’s been waiting around 10 years for God to fulfill the promise and give him a child. In the last chapter he suggested for the Lord to count his servant from his household as the heir. Now Sarah says ‘take my maid Hagar and have a son with her’. Of course the sons name is Ishmael. For all you preachers who read this site, well you know the story. But for all my buddies let me explain. Ishmael is usually looked upon as ‘the flesh’. That is Abraham went out in his own strength and tries to make Gods promise happen. True. But Paul will use this story in Galatians 4 and teach the difference between law and grace. Though Ishmael is the father of the Arab nations [Muslim people for the most part]. Yet Paul does not compare Ishmael to ‘natural Arab descent’. He compares Ishmael to JEWISH PEOPLE WHO ARE LAW KEEPERS AND WHO PERSECUTE TRUE BELIEVERS! Now, I don’t want to go anti Semitic. I want you to see this very important distinction. Today we should see this whole story thru the eyes of law versus grace. Not thru the eyes of Jew versus Muslim! When you preach it the ethnic way [Jew versus Muslim] you do harm to the purpose of God. Paul will use the illustration to show how all those who are under grace are free and don’t have to be under a legalistic mindset. He will compare Ishmael to those who are NATURAL JERUSALEM [not Arab people!] and say ‘you must be free from trying to please God thru the law, and come to the Cross!’ [Hebrews, Romans, Galatians, etc.] Preaching it like this is consistent with the New Testament. Preaching it like the American Fundamentalists causes strife in the world! So read this chapter along with Galatians 3 and 4. Think about what I just told you as you read, and see if it falls down on the side of grace versus ethnic division. God loves all people. He is calling all nations to himself thru Christ. Let’s keep this in mind as we ‘preach the bible’. Many times we do damage to the purpose of God because we think ‘preach the bible’ means spewing out hatred to Muslim people. Here we have shown you that this is not the will of God!
- GENESIS 17- Once again God appears to Abraham to reassure him of the original promise. What did God promise him again? He will be the father of many nations [Paul will refer this to Abraham being the father, spiritually, of all believers. Not just natural Israel!] God told him he would be a blessing to the whole world thru his offspring [Both Jesus individually, all men being justified and receiving the Spirit by faith. And also thru the ‘corporate Christ’. The whole body of Christ, including Jew and gentile believers] and Abraham would ‘inherit all this land thru his offspring’. If you go back and look at the actual borders that God spoke of, it is much more than what you see on a map of Israel today! We are going to deal with the mistaken idea of the Protestant American Evangelist and his preaching on so called ‘replacement theology’. Now The Lord will reaffirm this basic promise and tell Abraham ‘walk before me and be perfect’. I get the sense that the Lord was waiting until Abraham’s faith was ‘perfect’ enough to fulfill the promise [read my commentary on Hebrews 11 on this site!] It’s like the Lord was saying ‘walk right son, I am waiting to give you all the stuff I spoke of!’ Abraham is 99 and Sarah is 90. God says ‘Sarah will be the mother of many nations’. It seems like Abraham all ready gave up on his future son Isaac and had all his hopes on Ishmael. Abraham will say this in response to the promised Isaac. ‘O that Ishmael would live before thee’ in essence ‘just do the promise thru Ishmael, I’m all right with it’. God says no, he will do it thru the promised child! Now, let’s get into it. Read Galatians 3-4 and Romans 3-4. Paul will take all these promises and say ‘the promise that God made to Abraham that he would inherit the world was not to Abraham or his kids thru the law, but by faith. So at the end [fulfillment] the promise might apply to all the kids, not just to natural Jews who are living by the law’. Paul absolutely is a REPLACEMENT THEOLOGIAN! He is really not guilty of what this so called accusation means. Some preachers will say those who ‘spiritualize’ the promise of God to Israel and apply them to the church are ‘replacement theologians’. But the fact is Paul is doing this! Read Romans 4: 13-14. Paul interprets these passages to refer to the church. Both Jew and non Jew who believe. ‘Why brother, how can the church fulfill the promise of God to Abraham that his seed [kids] would inherit the holy land’? Easy, the New Testament clearly states that we are joint heirs with Christ. We basically own the planet. There are believers right now in every part of the Holy land and all Palestine and Iraq and Egypt and as a matter of fact all over the world! Did you notice Paul will expand the ‘land promise’ from the holy land to the world! Jesus is actually seated at Gods right hand in heaven ruling from a universal throne [which includes Israel!] and is expanding his actual earthly presence thru the church. The fact that right now Abraham has spiritual children inhabiting the whole planet, including Israel. Shows that the promise to Abraham is being fulfilled thru ALL THE SEED, not just those who are ‘of the law’ [natural Israel]. Well in a nutshell, Paul was a ‘replacement theologian’ but I prefer to see it more as a ‘full world theologian’ a type of interpretation that sees all of Gods kids possessing all of Gods world thru the ‘promise of the Spirit’. NOTE; It is vital for believers to see this truth. It will keep us from getting involved in ‘holy wars’ between Israel and Palestine and advocating actual murder as a fulfillment of Gods word!
- GENESIS 18- The Lord appears to Abraham and tells him he is going to destroy Sodom. Abraham has family living there [Lot] and pleads with the Lord not to judge the place. Abraham says ‘what if 50 righteous people are there, will you destroy them with the rest’? The Lord says ‘No’. Abraham goes all the way to ‘what about 10 people’ and the Lord assures Abraham he will not destroy the place if there are 10 righteous people there. Well, you know the story. Lot and his family will leave and God will judge the place. Peter will use the example of Lot and say ‘the Lord knows how to deliver [save] the righteous’. He ‘delivered’ just Lot. Also the Lord ‘saved’ Noah who was a preacher of righteousness. David in Psalms says ‘The righteous cry [call upon] and the Lord hears and saves them’. The theme of God ‘saving the righteous’ is different than God ‘saving sinners’. This is actually what Paul is referring to in Romans 10 ‘with the heart mans believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation’. In essence ‘you are saved’ when you believe. And the process of ‘ongoing promised salvation and deliverance will come to all who call’. Hey, once you believe [are made just] you can’t help but call! For the Spirit of God is sent forth into your heart and you will cry ‘Abba, father’. I don’t want to get technical here. If you asked Jesus into your heart and are truly serving God, great! But in context there is a ‘salvation of the righteous’ as well as a ‘salvation of the sinner’. They are intricately connected, but you see the doctrine here. God will save the just over and over again as they call upon his name. The righteous cry and the Lord hears their prayer and delivers them.
- GENESIS 19- The Lord tells Lot to leave Sodom Lot has to be forcibly removed by the angels! The men of Sodom wanted to have ‘relations’ with the angels! Lot offers his daughters instead and the men pass on the offer. God initially tells Lot to flee to the mountain [the name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into and are safe- once again we will see the doctrine of the righteous being saved by the Lord]. Lot offers the angels a compromise. He says ‘let me go to this nearby city instead’ the angels say ‘fine’. The next day lot wakes up and sees the total destruction of Sodom and realizes this was the last city he lived in that the Lord wasn’t to happy with. He must have turned around and thought ‘geez, the lord also wasn’t to happy with me going to this other city [Zoar] either, he wanted me to go to the mountain’ and he tells his kids ‘you know what, that mountain retreat sounds like a good idea after all’! The scripture says he feared to stay in Zoar! If you read 2nd Peter 2 and Jude you will see Lot mentioned. The writers will once again say the Lord knows how to save the righteous. These chapters speak of both the deliverance of Noah and the story of Lot. Many times rapture theorists will see the truth of God saving his people from wrath and mistakenly apply it to a geographical deliverance. Both lot and Noah are examples of believers who were ‘removed from wicked places and preserved from God’s wrath’. It was a geographical salvation if you will. In the New Testament the wrath of God is seen in a more universal dimension. In John 3 the scripture says ‘the wrath of God continually abides on the unbeliever’. Paul will say ‘Jesus delivered us from the wrath to come’. Past tense! The New Testament doctrine of promised deliverance from ‘the wrath to come’ is not contingent upon a geographical location. It is based on ‘being in Christ’ [the city of God, the bride the lambs wife! Revelation] and coming ‘out of Babylon’. The world [not the earth!] and its false systems of pride and sin. So in context you can apply these geographical deliverances to the child of God being spared from future wrath. But you shouldn’t develop a doctrine that says ‘Jesus comes back 2 more times, one to take away believers for 7 years and another to reveal himself’. Jesus will come back, but if you haven’t already been ‘delivered from Babylon’ by the time he comes, then be assured ‘the wrath of God abideth on you’.
- GENESIS 20- Abraham does it again! He travels to Gerar and tells the king ‘Sarah is my sister, not my wife’. This time the king takes her but before he sleeps with her God appears to him in a dream and tells him not to do it. In this chapter we see dreams, prophets and healing mentioned. All before Pentecost! In the following days we will cover Joseph and his dreams. I want you to see the reality of God communicating and interjecting himself into the human story as he wills. The fact that all thru out scripture AND CHURCH HISTORY we see an ongoing work of God in supernatural things shows us that God is still sovereign and can do all the things he has ever done. One of the big divisions in Christianity today has to do with the Charismatic movement and the more Orthodox/Reformed brothers. While I realize the Reformed brothers do accept the supernatural workings of God, some of them hold to cessationist views of the gifts of the Spirit. The Charismatics will accept the gifts, but often fall short in the simple teaching of scripture. I have been frustrated over the years in trying to tell Charismatic brothers that you can’t teach that Jesus was a very wealthy person who taught a money message. No matter how much proof from scripture or history you give them, they dismiss it as ‘that old tradition’. I can see why the more Reformed guys just avoid the whole deal. But to be honest to scripture we need to see and have a basic belief in a supernatural God who can communicate thru dreams and can use Prophets and does heal miraculously! Now after God appears to Abimilech and tells him ‘don’t do it, she is the mans wife’. The king is also told ‘restore her back to the man and he will pray for you and I will heal you, he is a Prophet’. So Abraham makes it right. Now, the king also gives restitution to Abraham. Lots of stuff. Does this contradict what I taught earlier about Abraham? We showed how he didn’t take free handouts. In this case this is really not a free handout, it is the biblical doctrine of restitution. Jesus taught this in the New Testament. When someone is wronged by you, do what you can to make up for it. So we leave this chapter with Abraham once again coming out on top, even though he messed up! This shows you that it is only by the mercy and favor of God that you are where you are today. You might think ‘you know, I really am a pretty talented guy. If I weren’t with the lord I probably would have succeeded in some other endeavor’ NOT! It is his grace alone that has exalted you to success. If it weren’t for the Lord you would be a big mess!
- GENESIS 21- God gives Abraham a child thru Sarah in their old age. Sarah was ‘beyond the time to have kids’ and it was truly a miracle. The child grows and Abraham’s son from Hagar, Ishmael, mocks Isaac. The scripture says ‘cast out the bondwoman’s son, he shall not be heir with Isaac’. This thing grieves Abraham but God says ‘listen to Sarah’ and he sends Ishmael and Hagar out. Once again in Galatians 4 Paul says ‘these things are an allegory’ [wow, talk about presumptuously spiritualizing the word! Many preachers believe doing this is wrong. They seem to not see the heavy amount of ‘spiritualizing’ that Paul does!] Paul says these are examples of how the legalistic Jews would persecute those born of the Spirit. Paul clearly says ‘just like Ishmael made fun of Isaac, so today [the New covenant] those who are born of the Spirit are being persecuted by those born ‘after the flesh’. There simply is no other way to see this. Paul flatly applies this story to law versus grace. Not Jew versus Arab [Muslim]. Paul will even call ‘natural Jerusalem’ Ishmael, who is under bondage with her children. And call those who are born of the Spirit children of ‘the heavenly Jerusalem’ who are born from God. For a first century Jewish former Pharisee to absolutely reject any glorifying of natural Israel, and to call her ‘in bondage with her children’ shows you the strong disconnect that the modern fundamental evangelist makes with scripture when he applies such honor to natural Jerusalem! In a previous chapter Abraham circumcises his son [Ishmael] and himself the same day. Paul will also teach that this shows Abraham to be the father of ‘many nations’. The fact that Abraham was declared righteous before he was circumcised shows you that Abraham is not only ‘the father of Jewish heritage’ but of ‘all who believe, even those who are not circumcised’. This might not mean as much to you today, but in 1st century Rome the Jews considered the uncircumcised as ‘dogs’. For Paul to say Abraham is the father of all who believe, even the uncircumcised, was a major break with ethnic tradition! Sort of like what I just showed you about the ‘natural’ versus ‘spiritual’ Jerusalem. It challenges the strong ethnic ties that believers hold to when they do not rightly interpret scripture. Paul was hated for this type of theology! So we see the Lord finally fulfill his promise to Abraham. The child has arrived! Boy is he gonna be surprised when God says ‘now, go and offer him as a sacrifice’!
- GENESIS 22- The big test day! It comes to all of us. A time in your life where you choose to obey or keep playing around the danger zone of disobedience. God tells Abraham ‘you see that boy Isaac, the one you have been doubting me about thru out this journey. You thought I would fulfill the promise thru your servant at first. Then for sure you had your hopes on Ishmael. Boy don’t you remember what we went thru in order to get you to the place of promise’? I could hear Abraham saying ‘I know Lord, forgive me for being so stubborn. I had a hard time believing Sarah could really have a son. She was ‘beyond the time of child bearing’ and I doubted it would happen. But now that it did happen, well I can see Isaac truly being the father of nations, just like you said’. God ‘yeah, it’s been a wild ride son. Oh yeah, one more thing. Take the child and offer him up on an altar!’ WHAT! I am sure Abraham thought the major days of testing were over. The miracle boy has arrived. Things are going well for Ishmael, he’s on his own and enjoying some bow hunting [he became an archer!]. And Abraham wants to settle down and enjoy the rest of his life. But the Lord says ‘let’s go for another round’. In Hebrews 11 the Word says Abraham at this point simply learned how to trust. He knew in his own mind that the only way to get any where was to obey. He tried all the other angles before and they just delayed the promise. He also knows that this child is the one that the promise will be fulfilled thru. Hebrews says Abraham just figured ‘what the heck. I got the boy by way of a miracle. He was as good as dead when he was born. He came from a ‘dead womb’. If God wants me to kill him, I guess he will just raise him up again!’ Abrahams mind was trained at this point in his life to fall down on the side of ‘I will do what God says, and he will do whatever needs to be done to bring the future to pass’. [Read my commentary on Hebrews 11 on this blog!] Often times this Isaac story is taught in a way that says ‘God will ask you to give up on the promise. You must ‘lay Isaac down on the altar’. While there is some truth to this idea, it really doesn’t grasp the full picture. I just showed you how in Abraham’s mind he didn’t think he was ‘giving up on the vision/destiny’ he just learned to allow God to do it the way he said. It is really not a test of giving up the vision, it is a test of how do you think it will come to pass! Have you learned to not try and organize and strategize and be ‘motivated’ enough to make it happen? We usually create idols out of the process, the way we think it should be done and God doesn’t say ‘lose the vision/purpose’ he says ‘quit trying to do it in ways that are heavily dependant on your own strength’. Abraham wasn’t giving up on the vision, he was giving up on his own wisdom!
- GENESIS 23- Sarah is old and dies. Abraham mourns for the loss of the ‘mother of many nations’. She was just as much a recipient of the promise as he was. Abraham offers to BUY a burial spot for Sarah and his family. He tells the people ‘sell me a place to bury my dead’. The sons of Heth say ‘you are a great and influential person. Take any spot you want for free’. Once again Abraham refuses a free gift. He did this earlier with the king of Sodom. Why is this important to see? While in today’s economy we allow for ‘churches’ to be tax free. Yet we need to be very careful about looking like we are freeloaders. I have heard unbelievers in the past say ‘these prosperity preachers are claiming God has prospered them. But they are getting tax free stuff’. While I believe it’s o.k. to use the benefits the government provides for advancing the gospel, we need to be aware of the impression this gives to the unbelieving world. Especially when we use the tax free status and at the same time amass wealth! So here we see Abraham purchase the land for the full price. He buys a field from Ephron and counts the silver in public [open books!] and lets everyone see up front that there are no secret financial dealings. I think Abraham would be a member of the financial accountability groups that oversee the ministries finances!
- GENESIS 24- Abraham sends his servant back to his homeland to get a wife for Isaac. The servant asks ‘what if the women doesn’t want to come back to the Promised Land, should I bring Isaac back to your original homeland’? Abraham is adamant ‘under no circumstances is my son to leave this journey and go back!’ the writer of Hebrews says ‘if they were mindful of the land they came from, they might have had opportunity to have returned’. The whole point is the idea of leaving the ‘homeland’ was a type of Israel [and you!] leaving the old ways and traditions that we are familiar with and to launch out into new things. Paul will often use this language in exhorting natural Israel to leave the old law and come into the New Covenant. We need to make sure that we don’t go back! [note: I am not saying all tradition is wrong, but sometimes we are so joined to past ancestry that this hinders the things God has planned for us]. The servant goes and finds a well and says ‘Lord, give me a sign. Let the woman who I ask to give me a drink. Let her also offer to water the camels and I will know she’s the one’. Is it wrong to ask for signs? Sometimes. But God wants us to succeed so much that he will show you beyond a shadow of a doubt what he wants! Sure enough Rebecca comes to the well and she fulfils the sign. They go back to Abrahams relatives [Labans house] and the servant tells the whole story. Rebecca goes back to the promised land with the servant and Isaac marries her. This story is often taught in Sunday school as Abraham being a type of God who sends his servant [Spirit] to get a bride [the Church] for his son [Jesus]. I think it fits. God also sends his Spirit to draw you away from the place of security into a new land. He knows that unless we leave familiar co dependant environments, we will never mature into the full functioning person that he intends for us. Often times the missing ingredient is ‘get up and get out’. We fail to launch!
- GENESIS 25- Isaac and Rebecca are married for around 20 years and still have no children. Isaac prays for kids and Rebecca is pregnant with twins! The first one out is Esau and then comes Jacob. Scripture says ‘the older will serve the younger’. Paul will quote this in Romans 9 to explain Predestination. The doctrine of God saving you based on total grace. He chose you before you were born! Now, I have said before that Christians have fought wars over this stuff. After all the studying I have done over the years, I fall down on the side of Calvinism [or Augustine or Paul!]. The critics of this doctrine have good reasons to be critical, there are some difficult questions that come with this teaching. For the most part you see Paul defending it in Romans 9 by using this story. He says God chose Jacob before the boys were even born, they had done nothing to earn Gods choosing. Now those who reject Predestination will say ‘God saw ahead of time the future decisions that the boys were to make’. Fine. But Paul still defends the doctrine from the point of view that ‘before the boys did right or wrong God chose Jacob’. Paul then says ‘you will then say to me, how can God find fault? People are just doing what they were predestined to do’. If God was just choosing Jacob based on his foreknowledge of their future choices, then Paul would have said ‘easy, God is being fair because he based this decision on his future knowledge of what the boys would do’. But Paul doesn’t say this. He answers the critics of predestination by saying ‘who are you to question God? Can the thing that God created question the creator’? Paul will go on in the rest of the chapter and defend classic Calvinism using this defense. I believe there are some real answers to be found thru out Romans that might be a little too ‘heavy’ for us to get into. Most believers who have argued over these 2 Christian views [Calvinism versus Arminianism] have argued over the seeming unfairness of the doctrine. There are things that we don’t fully understand or grasp as humans. When we try to ‘adjust’ scripture to make it fit our rational minds we err. I believe we should rejoice over the mercy of God, teach all people that Jesus loves them and Christ died for them. And thank God that you and I are in this thing because of Gods sovereign choice, it had nothing to do with what we did [or would do!] We also see Esau sell his birthright to Jacob. Paul uses this in Hebrews 12 to warn Jewish people not to despise the privileged position of ‘being first’. The gospel came first to the Jews. Jesus is the Jewish Messiah! The fact that they rejected Jesus has caused there to be a ‘despising’ of that which was originally theirs! Many Jewish people have fallen into the error of Esau. They have rejected something that was designed for their benefit. And while others have benefited from this rejection, they actually despise hearing about their rightful place in Messiah! Many Jewish families see it as heresy for a family member to convert to Christianity. Esau sold what was really his, and he hated Jacob because of it.
- GENESIS 26- There is a famine in the land and the Lord warns Isaac not to go down into Egypt. Isaac stays and dwells in Gerar and the surrounding area. He pulls the ‘this is my sister, not my wife’ thing. The king finds out she is Isaacs wife and rebukes him for lying. Isaac is really blessed in the land. Scripture says ‘he sowed and reaped a 100 fold’. Now, let’s do a little stuff. The modern church went thru a whole phase where believers were confessing and believing and doing everything [but working!] in order to get ‘the 100 fold return’. We have previously showed you how when Jesus spoke of ‘the 100 fold return’ in the parable of the sower, he in no way was speaking of money! [Read the chapter ‘twisting the parable of the sower’ the book is ‘HOUSE OF PRAYER OR DEN OF THIEVES’ on this site]. But because the Old Testament is the ‘shadow’ of things to come, and not the true riches. That’s why in this story it is speaking of natural stuff. Now the church went thru this stage of believers doing all they could to ‘reap the financial harvest’. We taught believers to think on money, confess it. Basically consume your thoughts with ‘money thoughts’ [all in violation of Jesus teaching on ‘the gentiles are always thinking about this stuff, let it not be like this with you’!] So we had a whole group of young believers violating the mandate in scripture to work and be diligent. And they often times were doing it by believing a distorted doctrine on the 100 fold return. Well Isaac reaped because HE SOWED. He planted that darn farmland! [To be nice about it]. So today we should teach the believer the responsibility of working and living diligently and being responsible. And we need to teach that the way you reap the 100 fold return is by actually planting that field! Isaac also will re open the wells that his father had dug. They were stopped up out of jealousy by the philistines. Sometimes people ‘who are not doing the work themselves’ [sowing] have a lot of free time. What do they do with this free time? Figuring out ways to stop up other peoples wells! Paul called them busy bodies in the New Testament. These brothers just make more work for those who are in the harvest field! Isaac opens up the wells and honors his fathers heritage. The church goes thru these stages every so often. A re opening of the church fathers. Studying Patristics again [1st 7 centuries of church history]. I think it’s a good thing to honor our spiritual heritage. These wells go deep and have been feeding people for centuries!
- GENESIS 27- Isaac is old and ready to die. He calls Esau and tells him to go get some deer and prepare him a good meal. Isaac is going to give the blessing of the firstborn to Esau. Rebecca hears the plan and when Esau goes hunting, she tells Jacob [her momma’s boy!] ‘Quick, go get some cabrito and let’s make some carne’! They dress Jacob in Esau’s hairy clothes and he goes to dad. Dad is a little suspicious but Jacob is a great liar. When Isaac says ‘son, how did you hunt and prepare the food so fast’? Jacob not only lies, but he even invokes the Lord! ‘God was with me and he helped me prosper’ OUCH! This boy likes to fib! The plan works and Isaac blesses Jacob instead of Esau. Notice the blessing, it is the actual blessing that Jacobs’s son Joseph will dream in the future. Isaac says your brothers will come to you and bow down and serve you, I have made you preeminent among them. Years later Joseph will tell these dreams to his father Jacob and Jacob will act surprised. ‘Are we all going to bow down to you, where in the world did you ever get such an idea’? I think Jacob knew where it came from, but he was playing the stoop! Esau comes in with the venison and finds out it’s too late, Isaac already gave the blessing of the firstborn to Jacob. But Isaac musters up a cheap blessing and gives it to him. Esau plots to kill his brother. Rebecca hears and says to Isaac ‘lets send Jacob away to Labans house. God forbid that he takes a wife from this place’! She wants her boy gone to protect him from his brother. Notice this whole story. God is using this family to fulfill his purpose in the earth. These are all the great heroes of the faith for heavens sake! You would be hard pressed to find a more dysfunctional family today. We have a tendency to present leaders and ‘movers and shakers’ as stage performers. They are seen at their best. The average saint feels he cant live up to the high powered models we present to them. That’s why when a book is written from the honest standpoint of failure and struggle, it is popular. The people of God want to know that they are not alone in their struggles and sins. They want to see that many of the ‘great Christians’ struggled like them. I think this story does a good job at accomplishing this purpose. Also in the last chapter I forgot to mention something. One of the wells that Isaac digs is named ‘Rehoboth’. Which means ‘the Lord has made room for us and we will be fruitful in the land’. I have already incorporated this into my prayer time. These chapters carry many tremendous promises of God giving you the influence of a true revolutionary. God telling Abraham ‘all the land you see you will inherit’ reaffirming these promises to his seed. ‘I will multiply you exceedingly, I will make nations out of you and kings will come from you’ ‘your children will inherit this land. They will prosper in all their ways’ all these themes can be found thru out these chapters. Remember Paul teaches these promises are being fulfilled thru the people of God. Claim these promises over you and your children. Claim them over both natural and spiritual offspring. God wants to bless you with the blessing of Rehoboth ‘he will make room for you in this land and make you fruitful’!
- GENESIS 28- JACOBS LADDER; Isaac sends Jacob off to Labans house. Esau sees that his father never dealt with Jacobs’s schemes and goes and TAKES A WIFE FROM ISHMAELS DAUGHTERS! A huge no no! Isaacs’s family knows this story like a family taboo. How many times has Esau heard how uncle Ishmael used to mock Isaac. And how ‘Father Abraham’ had to send Ishmael away. This story must have stuck like a thorn in the side of Ishmael and his family. Well, after all these years of family strife and division, old Esau goes and says ‘uncle Ishmael, can I have your daughters hand in marriage’? I am sure Ishmael thought ‘why what have we here, the precious heritage of beloved Isaac wants to associate himself with us. Sure I’ll help you old nephew’. Ishmael was more than glad to oblige. Isaac never really dealt with the inner strife in his family. King David and others would fall into this category as well. Esau did what he did out of spite, and it affected many others. Now on Jacobs journey he stops and sets up a bunch of stones [living stones- Peters epistle calls believers living stones] and makes a pillow for his head [a place to rest his head. Jesus is the ‘head’ of the church [authority!] and he ‘rests’ [abides] in the people of God thru his Spirit. We are the habitation of God!] As the sun sets [it got dark on Golgotha- the place where the sun went down] he falls asleep [Jesus ‘slept’ 3 days and nights in the grave]. During his sleep God appears to him and assures him that because of the journey he will become the heir and father of nations and peoples [Jesus is the actual seed of Abraham that would inherit all kindred’s and nations. He was faithful to go on a journey to earth, the incarnation. And the father made him heir of all things while he ‘slept’] Jacob wakes up [resurrection] and says ‘this is the house of God’ [Jesus made us the house of God thru his death and resurrection] and puts the stones together into a pillar. It actually calls the stones [corporate] ‘the stone’ [singular] at this point. We were all individual stones before Christ. But in him we have become one ‘stone’. The church, the Body of Christ. The pillar is made from the stones [Peter said we are the living stones who being formed together are an habitation for God- Paul said the church was the ‘pillar’ and ground of the truth] and Jacob pours oil on the pillar of stones [Jesus poured out his Spirit on all the living stones on the day of Pentecost, anointing us as his New testament pillar of stones]. Oh, by the way, the ladder that Jacob saw in his dream was a door of access from heaven to earth and earth to heaven, this is a wonderful type of the Cross. Bravo to the great victory of the Son of God!
- GENESIS 29- Jacob goes on his journey after the Bethel experience and shows up at a well in Laban’s land. As he is talking to the brothers who are sitting there at the well he scopes out the situation. He finds out that Rachel, the daughter of Laban, will be coming to water her dads sheep. Great, he is having some success in hooking up with a possible wife. As he is talking to the shepherds he asks ‘why don’t you guys water the sheep, there thirsty and it’s as good a time as any’? Jacob is pro active. His family history is digging up wells. For heavens sake water the ‘darn’ sheep already! The guys answer ‘O heaven forbid it! Our tradition is to wait for all the other brothers who are also bringing sheep. Then someone else rolls the stone away from the wells mouth [the ordained clergy ?] and then, and only then, do we water’. Well Jacobs a newcomer and he can’t figure out what’s wrong with these Yankees from the east. He just keeps his mouth shut. Sure enough Rachel shows up, and what do you know, he goes and rolls the stone away. That unordained rebel! Doesn’t he realize that he is violating the traditions of our fathers? The water in the well is precious, who does he think he is freely watering as if the water was ‘growing on trees’. Well it is! Or better, the ground is full of it. Jesus said ‘feed my sheep, the water that I give freely is available to everyone. This water will become a river in my people. For heavens sake the stone has been removed from my grave [well] for 2 thousand years, why don’t you water the sheep’? We are like the brothers waiting for the official ‘stone roller’ to tell us when it’s OK to water. Jacob was a go getter, if these other guys feel they don’t have the authority to roll away the stone and freely give access to the river of life, then that’s their problem. But ole Jacob is gonna provide that water whether they like it or not! Jacob goes to laban’s house and they share the whole story. Laban says ‘just because you are my relative, doesn’t mean you are going to work for free. Tell me your price’. Well, I kinda like Rachel. We did smooch at the well. Sure enough Laban says work for me for 7 years and she’s yours. They sort of had a long time payment plan for stuff like this. Jacob works the full 7 years and scripture says it seemed like a few days to him. The 7 years are up, Laban says ‘your bride is waiting in the tent’. It’s late and dark, Jacob makes love to his wife, and sure enough in the morning its Leah and not Rachel! Jacob is incensed. Laban says ‘Oh, didn’t I tell you we have this custom that the older sister gets married first? But being I am such an honest broker. Just work another 7 years for Rachel’. We often see Jacob as a schemer. After all the whole reason he is at laban’s house is because of his past schemes. But in this instance, laban was the slippery character. This will be the beginning of many years of deceit. Jacob will go ahead and trick laban out of the good flocks. Eventually Jacob will leave under less than perfect circumstances and his wife, Rachel, will learn the supplanting ways of Jacob. We will read how Rachel steals laban’s idols and lies about them. But we leave this chapter with some deep-seated mistrust in Jacobs’s dealings with uncle Laban.
- GENESIS 30- I forgot to mention that in the last chapter Leah gives Jacob 4 sons. Now Rachel is barren. Notice how all these mothers of the faith are barren. What’s up with this? Sarah, Rebecca and now Rachel. Paul will quote Isaiah in the book of Galatians ‘more are the children of the desolate, than of the married wife’. Paul quotes this in context of saying ‘the spiritual Israel [church] will actually have more ‘children’ than the natural Israel’. He quotes it in a way to teach the reality of God bringing forth the promises thru the promised seed as opposed to the natural law. I hope you’re following me. It is consistent with everything I showed you when we covered Isaac as the promised seed. Now here we see a theme of the promised mothers as barren. And then God miraculously giving the mothers birth [remember Sarah was past the time of having kids?] So God is doing the same here, Rachel feels hopeless as each year passes and she is barren. Especially because Leah has given Jacob kids! So in this chapter the race is on! It’s actually quite funny. Rachel says ‘Jacob, sleep with my maid’ [A Hagar type thing] and sure enough Rachel starts the competition. Leah is also popping out more kids and is trying to keep up. Then Leah stops getting pregnant and enlists her maid. Sure enough the race continues. Then Leah starts getting pregnant again and names the kid ‘Gad’ which means ‘a troop is coming’ OUCH! Old brother Jacob must have been thinking ‘am I personally going to fulfill grandpa’s dream of populating the earth?’ Then Rachel gets pregnant for the first time. She has Joseph, thru him we will see the prophetic lineage carry on. He will have future dreams and fulfill great destiny. His role will be crucial to the survival of his whole family. Now Jacob tells Laban he wants to move away. Laban wants to work out a deal to keep him as his main worker. Jacob is an excellent employee! So Jacob does a famous scheme. This chapter is one of those stories that people use to try and discredit scripture. The reason is Jacob will take all the sheep with spots and stripes and remove them from the herd. He than tells Laban ‘now, I have removed the spotted sheep. All that is left are plain ones. From now on all the new sheep will be divided like this; those born with spots/stripes are mine. Those born plain are yours’. And scripture says Jacob peeled stripes in Poplar tree branches and placed them at the watering trough. When the sheep conceived while looking at the striped branches they had striped kids! Some have had a hard time trying to explain this story. Does science teach stuff like this? Not really. Some have come up with various excuses. Let me give you my explanation. In this whole story it does say ‘when the sheep mated in front of the branches they gave birth to striped sheep’ and when the weaker sheep were there mating without the branches that they gave birth to plain ones. The scripture doesn’t actually say it was because of the branches! Its obvious Jacob thought it was because of the branches, but if you read it carefully the guy might have been fooling himself! It’s sort of like these mafia guys from New Jersey. Lots of them ran construction crews or Pizza Parlors. They actually made great Pizza! They could have made it legitimately if they wanted. But they wanted their hands in the cookie jar. It’s possible that God was simply giving Jacob favor when the stronger sheep bred! God has been known to favor his kids. But old scheming Jacob needed some angle, like the mafia guys. He very well might have thought ‘look, my scheme is working’ scripture does say ‘when the stronger sheep mated in front of the sticks, they gave birth to spotted babies’. But the lord might have been making those babies spotted regardless of the sticks! It just said the sticks were there! So without being too dogmatic on this, lets say Jacob was the type of ‘supplanter’ [this is what his name means] that was always looking for an angle. He never could fully trust God to simply meet his needs without his own devising. Jacob struggled with ‘trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding’ he was a lot like us.
- GENESIS 31- As Jacobs flocks increase and he becomes highly successful, Labans family gets jealous. Scripture says Labans countenance changed. He began listening to what the critics were saying ‘look, this guy is getting all the credit/blessings that are rightfully yours, it’s coming at your expense’. Notice, Laban probably would have been content that his son in law was prospering. He even says this later in the chapter. ‘I am happy for you son, your wives and kids are part of me’. But the incessant jealousy that he was hearing day in and day out wore him down. Be careful that you aren’t upset about stuff that you shouldn’t be upset about! Jesus gave the parable of the workers who got their agreed wages, but then felt wronged because the master gave the same amount to others who didn’t work as long. Jesus says ‘is your eye evil because I have been extra merciful to others who you deemed less worthy’? Of course this theme fits in perfectly with the Jewish context of the gospels. The Jews would be incensed that Messiah offered the same forgiveness to those who they deemed less worthy, the gentiles. So here Laban has heard it long enough, his ‘countenance changed’. Jacob sees the writing on the wall and what do you know, just in time he says ‘I had a dream and God told me to leave’. Now, I will take the brother at his word. But he has already shown a history of saying ‘God told me, or helped me do such and such’ when covering up deception! [He told pops ‘I got the venison quickly because God helped me’, the brother was lying thru his teeth!] In the dream the lord tells Jacob ‘I am the God of Bethel, it’s time to journey again. Go back to Canaan’. Why would God remind him of this milestone of Bethel? Bethel was the place where Jacob earlier learned to commit all to God. He came to Labans land with nothing, God blessed him tremendously. It’s easy to begin trusting in the success and systems around you. You see your job and career as your source of security. God is reminding Jacob that he is still the God of Abraham and Isaac. Jacob is just a fulfillment of Gods previous decree to his forefathers! When God says it’s time to journey you journey! As Jacob gets his wives and family they sneak away. Laban comes chasing him down and is mad ‘now what, you left secretly at night! I didn’t even have a chance to kiss the kids’ he must have been battling with the gossip that he’s been hearing from his men. They did say ‘watch out for this guy, we don’t trust him’. Jacob makes his defense, even though he himself is not totally innocent. ‘How dare you question my integrity! I have done this and that…and on and on’ he makes laban feel guilty. Now Laban isn’t the brightest light bulb in the chandelier. He tells Jacob ‘someone stole my images [idols!]’ and Jacob says ‘search for them, whoever has them will be guilty’. Jacob does not know that Rachel has them in her tent. Poor Laban goes rummaging thru everything and comes to Rachel’s tent. Rachel says ‘forgive me father for not standing up, but the time of women is upon me. So I can’t get up and let you search the couch I am sitting on. You don’t have a problem with that, do you’? Old brother Laban obviously wasn’t a C.S.I. watcher! So at the end of this chapter they mend relations. Jacob leaves the land where he has been blessed, and now has to deal with some past demons. He will face Esau, the last person that wanted to kill him!
- GENESIS 32- Jacob makes the trek back home. He’s burned this bridge in the past, but now he has to go back thru the wreckage! He fears Esau, he thinks ‘does he still hold my trickery against me’? He sends some messengers to talk to Esau. They come back ‘what did he say’? Nothing, he’s just coming with about 400 men. O that’s all. He prays ‘God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and me!’ [Jacob- I fudged, he doesn’t say his own name] he says ‘you told me to go back to Canaan, I am just doing what you said. I trust you to save me and the kids. What in the world will happen if they all get wiped out? You promised…on and on’ Jacob is like me, an over reactor! You will see this thru out his life. He later will think all is lost when Joseph keeps one of the brothers in Egypt before he reveals his identity. He thought all was lost when his boys had those brothers circumcised that raped their sister. They tricked the pagans into circumcising themselves and when they were ‘sore’ the 2 brothers went in and slew the city! Jacob responds ‘what have you done! They will surely wipe us all out’ but instead it put the fear of God in the surrounding enemies. They all thought ‘what in the heck is up with this family. One of the guys from our area had ‘relations’ with the girl, and they go and trick them into mutilating themselves, then the next day they come and finish you off!’ It actually worked out pretty well. So here Jacob trusts the Lord and will commit it all to him, right? Not! Jacob says ‘Quick, split the women and children into 2 camps. Get some bribery packages together. Send a bunch of guys out to Esau and give him the bribes. If he doesn’t bite, and one camp gets wiped out, then the other group will go free’. Gee, I guess he thought the Lord didn’t hear him? Well Jacob finally meets up with Esau and all goes well. O, I forgot, Jacob has the meeting with the Lord. This is the chapter where he wrestled all night with the lord and receives the famous ‘Jacobs limp’. God changes his name to Israel, he will have influence with God and men and will prevail. Despite all his conniving and deal making, yet God sees him as a prince. A man who will influence nations and peoples. He has power with God himself! I guess that leaves room for the rest of us.
- GENESIS 33- Jacob finally confronts an old problem. He faces Esau. He has robbed him in the past, not just from his birthright, but from his dignity! Does Esau remember? I am sure. Will we find one of these new gospels some day [the fake ones!]? Will it be called ‘Esau’s revenge’ and tell a different story? Well the biblical one says Esau hugged Jacob and was overjoyed to reunite with his long lost brother. Esau learned the power of forgiveness. Jacob might have been carrying the baggage of his wrongdoing for many years. Esau dropped it long ago. So they have this great reunion, they settle old grudges. Esau says ‘come on brother, lets go back together’. I get the feeling that even though Jacob is back home, he really wants to maintain his own level of independence. He tells Esau ‘O, that’s all right. You go back. We will catch up later’. Esau offers to leave some of his men, Jacob refuses. I get the sense that Jacob is like one of the hometown boys who has been gone for years. Even though his family and friends have also grown and become responsible adults, yet he is different. It was Jacobs willing independence to leave his natural father and journey with God that has been key to his success. He really has found God as his Father. Now Esau was a good man, but over the years as times were rough, he had his family right there to help. Jacob had only God. Jacob didn’t want to sacrifice this precious gift. He’s back home, but he realizes his true home is Bethel! [The house of God].
- GENESIS 34- Jacob and the boys start settling down. Before too long one of the local men rapes the sister Dinah! Jacob hears and holds his peace. The boys come home and are livid. How dare these people disrespect us! You get the sense that Jacob is willing to let it slide. He is operating out of fear, self preservation. True courage demands a willingness to take the kingdom by violence! John the Baptist wasn’t weighing his options when he railed against the king’s sin. It cost him his life, but he knew he couldn’t let the injustice stand. So Jacobs’s sons are true warriors at heart. These are the 12 boys who are the beginnings of the heritage of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. These kids were like messing with the sons of Katie Elder [some old John Wayne western. To be honest I don’t think I ever watched it, but it sounded good to mention it] these boys have prophetic destiny written all over them. So here is the plan, they hear about Dinah’s rape. The father of the boy who raped her is the prince of the land. He comes and works out a deal with Israel. He says ‘my son loves the girl, lets be trading partners. We can all live together in harmony’. Jacob seems to think this is a good idea. The Boys have other ideas! They tell the father ‘sure, but we have this custom. We don’t deal with uncircumcised people. So go and circumcise all the men in your town and the deal is on’. Now, this is no small request! The father/ prince goes back to town. He gets together a city meeting. All the towns men are thinking ‘what’s it gonna be now? Another rate hike in our utility bill’. The meeting is held and he tells them the deal. ‘Oh, is that all. Just get circumcised. Doesn’t sound that bad. What does it mean I wonder? Sprinkle a little water on our heads. Some Episcopalian Baptism rite or something?’ Boy were they surprised. I can just see the look on their families faces when they got home to tell momma what the prince wants them to do. The wives must have thought ‘you gotta be kidding me, I want to move out of this county’ [and you thought Nueces county was rough!]. Poor Tommy hears the news from his dad and thinks ‘what in the heck kind of Waco cult are these people, they want me to cut what?’ So the deal is on, they go thru with it and 3 days later 2 of Jacobs sons [Simeon and Levi] get their swords and show up in the middle of the town and say ‘lets get it on’. They slew all the men. They spoiled the town and even took the women and children captive. And you think I’m an over reactor. Jacob is incensed ‘what have you boys done? You will bring the wrath of the whole area down on us. They will wipe us out’. He really was willing to do the fake deal and let his own daughter’s rape go unpunished. He believed the boys offer as much as the town’s people. The boys never intended to let their sister’s rape slide by, Jacob did. This shows you what fear can do, it clouds your thinking. Scripture says the fear of man brings a snare. Fear not the reproach of men. Jesus said don’t fear those who can kill the body only [men] but fear him who can destroy both body and soul [God! Some bad translators have said Jesus was speaking of satan, he was referencing God]. In the next chapter we will see God tell Jacob to go back to Bethel, and as they leave, the surrounding people didn’t lay a hand on them. They feared Jacobs’s boys more than Jacob feared the people of the land.
- GENESIS 35- As Jacob fears what will happen to him after his boys killed Hamor and ransacked his city, God tells him ‘calm down, return to Bethel. We need to get some things settled once and for all’. Bethel is the original spot where Jacob made God his Lord. He vowed earlier in his life that if God would be his provider then he would commit his life to him. God wants Jacob to settle down [spiritually!] renew his entire purpose and get his priorities right. As Jacob and the boys leave the area scripture says ‘no one dared touch them, the terror of the Lord was upon all the surrounding people’. I could just see one of the raiding tribes saying ‘hey, look at this group. They have lots of wealth and stuff. How come no one is raiding them? Lets get them!’ and one of the other tribal families says ‘That’s the family who tricked the entire city into mutilating themselves’ Oh yeah, I never heard the story. Tell me more. Where did they cut themselves? He tells them where ‘WHAT IN THE HECK!’ He continues ‘and then 3 days later 2 of the boys with swords show up in the city and announce ‘everybody up. The cuttings not over yet!’ and they killed all the men. Took the women and children and spoiled the place. The raiding group thinks ‘you know what guys, lets pass on this family’. The terror of God was upon them for good reason! At Bethel the Lord reminds Jacob of his calling ‘you are Israel, not Jacob. Don’t forget this, you are a prince and have power with God and men’! It was hard for Jacob to act like a prince. After the Lord instructs him and reminds him of the original destiny, Jacob once again builds a ‘pillar of stone’ and anoints it with oil. I sort of see a prophetic thing here. The first pillar did represent the church, the people of God. I think this ‘second pillar’ can also speak of Gods future purpose to bring ‘another flock’ [Gospel of John] into the fold. In essence this is a type of the church also. The ‘second pillar’ to go with the ‘second covenant’. God is showing Israel his intent to gather together a future community and to ‘re anoint’ [Israel were the first people to have the Spirit. Read Hebrews and Romans] this new people at Pentecost. Also in this chapter we see the birth of Benjamin and the death of Rachel, Jacobs ‘favorite’ wife. It then says ‘Rueben slept with his father’s concubine’ and in the very next verse ‘Rueben was the firstborn from Leah’. I see something here. Why did Rueben purposefully disgrace his dad? It came right after Rachel’s death. Ruben was conceived in a situation where his father was tricked into it. You remember the story of Leah. Now how many times over the years did Rueben witness the favoritism that his father showed towards Rachel’s son Joseph? How long was Rueben waiting for things to turn around? Maybe when Joseph gets older dad will pay more attention to me as the firstborn? Maybe this favoritism is a stage that dad is going thru? Well he hears of the death of Rachel, and also of another new born son! Oh my, will Jacob spend another 25 years pampering this other boy from his favorite wife? Ruben saw the writing on the wall. It was time to let dad know how he felt about this whole situation. He did.
- GENESIS 37- Chapter 36 has a lot of genealogies, so let’s skip it. In this chapter we see Joseph having the dreams that his brothers and father and mother will bow down to him. He makes the mistake of telling everyone about it! Rueben is already mad about the favoritism shown towards Rachel’s sons as opposed to him being the firstborn. The other brothers clearly see the favoritism too. Jacob made Joseph the coat of many colors. To me this represents the multi ethnic diversity of Christ’s church [body]. Skins represent ‘covering’ or flesh. All the animals sacrificed in the Old Covenant were a type of Christ. The tabernacle represented a living mobile dwelling place of God, the church. They used skins as a covering. So this coat of many colors is like the body of Christ. Joseph typifying Jesus as the favored son who will eventually bring together all tribes and nations into unity as Jesus ‘wears them like a robe’ [truly we are his dwelling place, covering of flesh if you will!] Jacob sends Joseph to ‘see how his brothers are doing and bring back the report’. Just like the parable Jesus gave about the king sending the servant to check up on the vineyard. Eventually the king says ‘I will send my son’. Jesus says they take the son and kill him. Joseph’s brothers see Joseph coming and say ‘here comes Mr. big shot, the dreamer’. Understand Josephs dreams were simply the destiny of God on his life. It is important to differentiate between ‘what I want out of life’ and Gods purpose. Joseph’s dreams did speak of exaltation and fame. But these were things he did not seek! Jesus gives instruction in the New Testament to actively pursue the lowest place. The teachings on taking the seat in the back of the room and not the front. The teaching against gentile ideas [Roman] of authority. So we must not read into Joseph’s story that God wants us to ‘be all we can be. Become great’. Greatness in Gods kingdom is backwards. You seek not to be exalted and exaltation comes! Now the brothers take him and throw him into a pit [grave] ‘without water in it’. A type of death. Water and spirit are interchangeable words. A pit without water is like the grave [body] without the spirit. James says this is what death is, separation of body and spirit. Now something is happening at this point. The brothers are falling into the trap of group think. Just going along with something because others are doing it. Rueben begins seeing this deception. He also despises Joseph, but begins realizing things are getting out of hand. He says ‘lets not kill the boy, just throw him in the pit’. Judah also speaks up on his brother’s behalf. So they take Josephs coat, put blood all over it. They sell Joseph into slavery and they bring the coat to Jacob. ‘Dad, we found Josephs coat with blood on it. I wonder what happened to him?’ Now, how many options do we have? Maybe the boy got into a scrap trying to save some sheep and that’s what happened, or maybe he hurt himself and used the coat as a tourniquet? Yeah, that’s possible! But Jacob is a pessimist ‘surely some wild animals got to him’ bad enough! But wait ‘and they tore him to pieces, devoured him and he’s gone’ Yikes! Then he says ‘I will be depressed about this for the rest of my life and go to the grave never getting over it!’ Boy, who would have thought the guy was gonna take it like this? We once again see the over reaction of Jacob. It’s so easy for leaders with destiny and purpose to think all is lost. Moses and others have thought the same. Elijah was ready for the Lord to take his life because some Jezebel was giving him a hard time! I want to encourage leadership, don’t make rash or major decisions when your emotions are out of whack. We have a tendency to take reproof or correction the wrong way. We want to quit and start all over. Find someone else to ‘take over the church’ so we can get out of dodge. Jacob thought the worst, but what was actually happening was Gods pre ordained plan that would actually be for his salvation down the road. Jesus is still thought to be dead by Jacobs descendants, they only see the ‘pit without water in it’. They don’t realize that Jesus [Joseph] is actually alive and waiting for them to come and bow the knee!
- GENESIS 38- Judah goes ‘down from his brothers’ [isolates himself] and sleeps with some women. He does have a history of ‘going in unto harlots’. This chapter will get graphic, just warning our younger readers! He seems to have a pattern with this. Now, one of the sons, Er, will marry a girl named Tamar. The son is wicked in the sight of the Lord and the scripture says ‘the Lord slew him’. Judah tells the other son, born from his playboy lifestyle ‘Go and have kids with your brother’s wife, and raise up children for your brothers name’. This was a custom of the time. If a brother died before his wife had children, then the other brother was supposed to do this. Now it wasn’t being Mormon! [The old time ones]. They wanted to make sure the lineage of the tribe from whom the son died continued to carry on a legacy. It was for the procreation of the children of Israel. Now Judah’s second boy, Onan, does not want to raise up seed to his brother. I see in him a sickness that plagues the Body of Christ today. Because of the way we have come to view local church as the separate 501 c3 organization, this tends to build a mindset into the clergy that says ‘are you with us [the so called ‘local church’] or with the other team down the block?’ There is a strange concept that says ‘I will spend my time, resources and energies raising up seed to my name [my 501 c 3] but I can not give of my gifts and life to build into people who I do not derive some loyalty or benefit from’ [raising up seed to your brother]. Now Onan does something; here’s the warning about graphic language! He ‘goes in unto his brother’s wife and spills it on the ground’. I don’t think I should explain this. Years ago one of the Captains at the fire dept. would say ‘well, the bible says it’s better to spill it in a prostitute, than on the ground’. And he would look at me to confirm his translation. He really thought it was in the bible! I would ‘instruct him in a way more perfectly’. I also had a friend who said ‘well, the bible says “woman, if thy husband hitteth thee [notice how he used ‘hitteth’ as opposed to ‘hit’] divorce him, for he is lower than a rattler’. I would inform him I was pretty sure this wasn’t in the bible. He was adamant! I would tell him ‘besides it being contrary to scripture, I don’t think the Lord would say ‘rattler’ he would use ‘rattlesnake’. So Onan ‘spills it on the ground’ and guess what? The Lord kills him too! Now poor Tamar is real innocent in the deaths of the 2 boys. But Judah begins to wonder. Like the show I saw on some court channel. The woman accidentally shot her husband in the head. The defense had a hard time convincing the jury, being this was the second husband that she ‘accidentally shot in the head’! So Judah tells Tamar ‘go home to your dad, when my young son is old enough I will let him marry you’ sure! He of course tells his young son ‘stay away, you don’t want to die like your brothers’ [I added this part, but it sounds likely]. So one day when Judah is on a business trip, he looks around for the town prostitute. Tamar hears Judah is in town and puts a veil on her face and goes and stands on the corner. Judah doesn’t know it’s his daughter in law and sleeps with her. Judah agrees to pay for her services with a goat. Tamar takes his ring and staff and bracelet as a down payment. A few days later Judah sends his servant with the goat and he can’t find her. He asks the men of the town ‘where’s the harlot who was working the corner’? The men say ‘who’? They tell the servant they never had a harlot working the streets. Judah hears Tamar is pregnant and says ‘she played the harlot and should be stoned’! [He was a member of the Moral Majority]. Tamar sends the staff and ring to Judah and says ‘this is the man who got me pregnant’ and Judah admits his sin. I find it interesting that Judah will be given one of the best blessings from Jacob as Jacob is on his deathbed. Jacob will say ‘The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet. His hand shall be on the neck of his enemies, unto him shall the gathering of the people be. As a young lion he shall crouch down and go up from the prey’. We will read this later on in this study. These are Messianic prophecies. Jesus is called ‘the lion of the tribe of Judah’. God uses people who have done wrong. People who when confronted don’t try and cover it up. People who have made mistakes and are willing to admit them. This leaves room for the rest of us.
- GENESIS 39- Joseph goes into Egypt and is bought by Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh. The guy puts Joseph in charge of his entire household. Joseph truly excels in everything he does. The scripture says he prospered in everything he put his hand to! Just keep this truth balanced with all the undeserved suffering and afflictions he experienced. Now Joseph is so good at everything he does, that even Potiphars wife wants to ‘try him out’. She bugs him day after day to sleep with her! Joseph refuses. She gets him alone in the house, grabs his clothes and says ‘sleep with me’. He flees the house naked as she ripped his clothes from him. She then tells her husband ‘this Hebrew mocks you, he tried to rape me’. She lied and the husband puts him in prison. Notice something here, the wife’s accusation included racial stuff. Sort of like the racist movies from the 50s-60s. They played to mans inherent racism and would show the black man as wanting the white woman. These accusations were playing to the heart of racism. Some churches today still teach separation of the races, Christians look askance at mixed marriages. My position is in Jesus Christ these divisions do not exist and we should accept all races without prejudice. Now Joseph goes to prison and he excels again. The jailer makes him trustee of the whole place! You can’t stop this guy. In the next chapter we will see how it was part of Gods plan for this to happen to him. He did not go around rebuking the devil or claiming verses to get out of unjust persecution. He responded like Peter taught in his letter to the Christians ‘if any man suffers as a believer, let him praise God’. Peter makes a distinction between suffering persecution for wrongdoing and suffering as a believer. Peter experienced both. Even though he suffered shame by denying Jesus, God still turned it around and used it for his glory. Joseph understood the simple reality of a just man suffering unjustly. Now I want to emphasize the fact that Joseph was just! Peter also teaches us that we are partakers of the divine nature. John the apostle writes in his 1st epistle ‘whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin [habitually]’ ‘I write these things unto you that ye sin not, but if any man sins we have an advocate with the father’. Though I have shown you the many failings of the great heroes of the faith, I also want to show you the great walk that some of them had. You don’t have to have had a testimony of being a drug addict or ex con or some other terrible past in order to glorify God. It’s like my first Pastor used to say, his favorite song was ‘years I spent in vanity and pride, caring not my Lord was crucified’. But his testimony was getting saved at a young age. I would kid one of my buddies and say ‘Brother Skinners favorite song is about the years he spent in vanity and pride. I guess he meant all the times he acted out in recess!’ I know this is wrong, but it was too funny to leave out. So Joseph shows us the ideal can be achieved thru the wonderful grace of God. But if any man sin, you still have the advocate.
- GENESIS 40- Joseph is in prison and Pharaohs chief men get thrown in jail. His butler [the guy who tastes the wine before the king drinks it, to make sure it’s OK] and the baker. One day Joseph notices there sad faces ‘what’s wrong guys’? They tell him they both had dreams the previous night. They were troubled that they did not know what the dreams meant. Does Joseph say ‘O, you had too much pizza last night’ or ‘don’t you know we have the books of Moses completed! There are no more prophetic dreams.’ Instead he says ‘God is the one who can give the interpretation of dreams’. It is understood that some dreams have meaning and come from God. You find this all thru out scripture. I’ll be honest, I have recently had some prophetic dreams but have stopped sharing them on the site. Why? These last few years there have been so many prophecies shared and put on line and I feel the consumers of these words are not getting a steady diet of scripture and New Testament Christianity. I just read a ‘prophetic word’ that spoke of ‘why we are not getting the end time harvest of money yet’ it went into ‘targeting the demonic forces holding back the cash’ and other techniques to use to get the money. I have written and even sent some of our teachings to some of these brothers. Could it be the reason all the wealth hasn’t been released is because we are viewing the ‘end time transfer of wealth’ from an unbiblical standpoint? So I too have grown weary of all the ‘prophecies and dreams’ that seem to miss the mark. But here Joseph jumps write into the fray and interprets the dreams. He tells the butler ‘your dream means in 3 days you will be restored and hold the kings wine glass again’. The baker likes the word and asks ‘what about my dream’? ‘In three days Pharaoh will hang you on the gallows’ OUCH. Never mind Joseph, I don’t believe in prophecy any way. The dreams do have prophetic significance. The wine and bread [baker] speak of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. The 3rd day speaks of the mighty resurrection of the Son of God. Jesus offered his Body [bread] as a sacrifice for all humanity. He ‘hung’ on the Cross for us, just like the baker hung on the gallows. Jesus also was ‘lifted up’ out of the ‘prison’ the 3rd day and once again was restored to his previous position at the right hand of God. He took ‘the cup of his Blood [wine] and presented it once again to his father’. I think these dreams were prophetic.
(729)GENESIS 41- Joseph is sitting in prison for 2 full years after he was promised by the ‘cup holder’ to advocate for his cause once he was released! The cup holder forgot to mention it! I think one of the most unjust things that has happened in society has been these brothers who have been falsely accused of some terrible crime and spent years in prison and then later were found to be innocent. I think this is why we need to really rethink the death penalty. Now Pharaoh has these dreams and he calls all of his wise men in and no one can interpret the dream. At this point the cup holder realizes his wrong. He tells Pharaoh that when he was in prison a guy interpreted his dream. Sure enough, after years in jail and having been persecuted by his brothers and sold into slavery, at the age of 30 he finally begins inheriting some stuff. Joseph was 17 when the problems started, he is now 30. 13 years of suffering and obscurity. Now, scripture says ‘see a man skilled in his work, he will stand before kings. He will not serve obscure men’ [Proverbs? It’s a newer version of the bible]. God was ordering things in Joseph’s life to ‘bring him before kings’ men of influence. He was ‘accidentally’ sold to an officer of pharaoh. He then gets thrown in jail and runs into the ‘chief butler and chief baker’ and now he gets a shot at pharaoh! It was the hand of God positioning him to be in a place of influence. Joseph will interpret pharaohs dreams to mean 7 years of famine will follow 7 years of plenty [read the chapter, I didn’t include the dreams in this entry]. Pharaoh says ‘great, what should we do about it?’ Joseph says ‘how about you find the wisest, smartest most impressive man in your country [gee, I wonder who this could be?] and put him in charge and have him collect a fifth of all the lands produce during the time of plenty and then he can distribute the food during the harvest’. Pharaoh says ‘sounds like a great idea! And who is wiser than you Joseph, you’re the man’. Joseph basically pulled a Dick Cheney [for those reading this in a hundred years, Cheney is the current vice president of George Bush] Bush hired Cheney to find the most qualified vice president he could recruit. Sure enough Cheney says ‘it’s me!’ So Joseph carries out the plan, Pharaoh puts him in charge of the whole country. Pharaoh says ‘only in my official title am I higher than you’. Joseph is truly running everything! He didn’t despise his day of ‘small things’. He ran Potiphars house, then the prison and now the country! Joseph is a type of Christ here. Pharaoh says ‘I give all authority to you, the nation will stand or fall on your word’. Jesus told the people in John’s gospel ‘My words will judge you in that day’. Joseph truly is a man of power and authority. He has 2 kids in this chapter. Manasseh and Ephraim. Their names mean ‘God has caused me to forget all my previous trials’ and ‘God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction’. Isaiah says ‘remember not the former things, nether consider the things of old, behold I do a new thing. Shall ye know it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Before these things happen I declare them unto you, so when they come to pass you will know I ordained it’. Also Joseph tells Pharaoh ‘God has revealed to you what he is going to do’ by giving him the dreams. Joseph understood that it was Gods purpose to reveal his plan ahead of time to Pharaoh. The coming to pass of these dreams on a national scale was proof positive of the ‘God of Joseph’ being the true God! I remember hearing a testimony of a Muslim tribe who all converted to Jesus in a single day. One morning one of the men woke up and shared a dream he had. He explained how he saw Jesus in the dream. As word spread they soon realized that every single person in the tribe all had the same dream the previous night! When God reveals himself on a wide scale like this it leads to whole nations [groups of people] converting. As Joseph stores up the food for 7 years he strategically puts the food in store house cities thru out the land. This is a type of Jesus future revolutionary movement. In Matthew 13 Jesus speaks of the kingdom as seeds. Both the people and the word are described as seed in this chapter. When Jesus sent out the disciples they were distributing seed [the message] as well as being ‘seed’ [Jesus says the good seed were the children of the kingdom planted and growing in the world]. In essence Jesus was placing garners [communities of people] filled with seed all over the region. Paul himself will target the influential cities of his day with the gospel. He knew if he could spread the fire to strategic places it would take root. So Joseph has all this ‘grain in the barn’ just waiting to bust loose during the famine. And sure enough the famine comes and everyone turns to ‘the garners of wheat in the storehouse cities’ for their sustenance. I believe the people of God, Gods ‘fine wheat’ are truly the ones with the answer to society’s ills. Jesus has planted us ‘in the world’ [not in the church building!] so when the times of famine come, people can run to us for the ‘bread of life’.
- GENESIS 42- The famine in the land gets severe. Jacob tells his sons ‘what are we doing, get up and go down to Egypt and buy some food’. This begins the process of Jacob and his boys submitting to God’s higher purpose that they would be saved thru Joseph’s authority. Now of course we see Jesus all thru out this scenario, but we also see the dynamics of prophetic ministries. Jesus said ‘a prophet has honor, except in his hometown and with his own family’. Though Joseph is revered and a man of great authority and gifting, yet it will take Gods sovereign work to bring his brothers to a place where they can benefit from that which was truly meant for their benefit! Jesus says this about Jerusalem ‘O Jerusalem, you kill the prophets and those who have been sent to you for your own benefit’. Joseph’s brothers should have been the first to have bought the food from their brother, but God is revealing a greater plan. Now when the brothers go to Joseph in Egypt, Joseph recognizes them. But he speaks in the Egyptian tongue and pretends he doesn’t understand them. He recognizes them, but they do not recognize him. The bible says ‘Jesus came unto his own and his own received him not’. Now Joseph works out a plan with his brothers trying to entice them to bring Benjamin back with them. He says ‘well, you guys are spies! You came to spy out the land’. They told Joseph that Benjamin [Josephs only brother from his mom Rachel] was still home with the dad. So Joseph keeps the boys in jail a few days and says ‘lets do this, go take the food back to your families. And I will hold one brother [Simeon] and don’t come back without the other boy’. So they leave and tell Jacob about the deal. Well of course Jacob goes overboard. ‘O my God, I have already lost one son [not really!] and now Simeon is gone and you boys want me to give you Benjamin too!’ Jacob says ‘all things are against me’. Gee, would you calm down for a minute pops! Here we go again with Jacob reading the worst into the situation. I forgot to mention that when the boys were talking in front of Joseph, Joseph hears for the first time that some of his brothers were really trying to help him. Rueben says ‘see, I told you we shouldn’t have done this wrong deed against our brother’. Rueben was the oldest brother who was jealous over the favoritism that Jacob showed towards Joseph. For all those years Joseph never knew that Rueben really cared for him. Joseph heard this and had to leave the room so his brothers wouldn’t see him crying over this revelation. Sometimes we don’t realize that people are actually for us. Elijah and others went thru times of feeling like they were all alone. The enemy’s strategy is to make you think ‘yes, everyone really is against me. The whole town hates me. All the people in the church are fighting me’. Joseph was not aware that some of his brothers were actually for him. We end the chapter with Jacob and the boys back in their land, never planning to return and see Joseph again. Jacobs fear almost cost him 2 sons!
- GENESIS 43- Jacob and the boys have not acted yet. They came back home and told their dad the situation and it seems as if Jacob is frozen with fear. Being in a place of stagnation. Proverbs says the righteous are as bold as a lion [Judah has lion imagery in the blessing that Jacob will give him!] but the wicked fleeth when no man pursueth. One of the strategies of the enemy is if he can’t out right stop you, then he will try to cause you to simply maintain. Don’t do anything to advance. So the food supply is low and Jacob must decide! He says ‘go back to the governor of Egypt [their brother Joseph] and just buy a little food’. His plan is no plan. He seems to think that if he limits the vision it will be all right! What good is getting a little food? He will be starving again soon. Judah basically says this ‘Dad, the man told us plainly not to return unless we bring Benjamin. If we hadn’t dilly dallied this long we would have already made the second trip and been back by now’! They flatly tell their dad ‘we aint going back without the boy!’ now Jacob agrees to send the boy. He once again falls into the worst case scenario in his thinking. Judah does something important here. He tells his dad ‘I will be surety for the boy. If anything happens to him let the blame be on me’. Why is this important? I mentioned earlier in this study that Judah is the special tribe from which ‘the lion of Judah’ [Jesus] will come. Hebrews says ‘it is evident that our Lord sprang from a tribe which was not represented at the altar’. Basically Jesus had to be born from another tribe that wasn’t a priestly tribe [Levi] in order to fulfill his new covenant priestly image. But why Judah? He doesn’t seem to be super holy, as a matter of fact we already discussed his playboy lifestyle! Judah is the only one in this scenario who sees ‘substitution’ as a viable answer to the problem. He basically says ‘I will be in the boys place’. Now we will see later that Judah will make this offer out right when Joseph attempts to keep Benjamin. But most of all I see Judah and his offer as a forerunner for the future act of Penal Substitution that will be carried out by Jesus, the lion who will spring from his loins. Now the boys pack up some stuff, bring extra money and head back to Egypt. They show up at Joseph’s house and are worried. They tell Joseph’s servant ‘we didn’t steal the stuff last time. When we opened the bags someone put the money back in our bags’. This was a trick that Joseph pulled on them earlier. So the servant says ‘don’t worry, the God of Joseph has shown you favor’. Interesting, though the Egyptians never converted en mass to Joseph’s religion, yet he was showing the reality of his God being the true God. He was a man of great influence who had attained a position of unbelievable authority and he was accepted by the government of his day. I think this is important for believers in our day to grasp. I feel we do damage to our testimony when we do ‘marches on Washington’ and stuff like this. While there might be times for things like this, the overall testimony of the church should be one of ‘the God of the Christians has shown you favor’. We should impact society thru our deeds and social justice concerns, not by our marching in the streets! Well Joseph sees Benjamin [his only other brother born from the same mom, Rachel] and has to leave the room because he almost cried right in front of his brothers. They still don’t recognize him yet. So as we end this chapter he makes all the brothers sit down at the table for a meal. He places them in order of their birth. The boys are thinking ‘how does he know the order of our birth’? They will find out soon enough.
- GENESIS 44- Joseph feeds his brothers and fills their bags with food and sends them off to Jacob. This time he put the food and money back in their bags, but also he put a silver cup in Benjamin’s bag. After they leave Joseph sends his servant to stop them. He searches the stuff and finds the cup with Benjamin. Now, Joseph is doing all this just so he could keep Benjamin and have the boys return with Jacob. But the boy’s know how nervous pops gets! Joseph doesn’t realize what a panic button pops has become. The boys realize how bad dad is and they tell the servant ‘well, you got us! I guess we will all go back together to Egypt’. These boys had the chance to escape without Benjamin, they figured they would rather face Joseph than dad, OUCH! If you read thru the story you will see that they really don’t want to go home. Joseph actually says ‘go back, leave Benjamin and see your dad’. Finally Judah says ‘look, our dad has been distraught ever since he lost the other boy [Which is the actual guy they are talking to!] and he took it hard. If we leave without Benjamin he will die. I will stay in the place of the boy’. Once again we see Judah offer ‘substitution’ as an answer to the problem. It seems as if atonement was built into the DNA of the tribe of Judah. Also during this whole scenario the servant mentions ‘divination’. The silver cup that was found in Benjamin’s bag was for the ‘purpose of divination’ [or so the servant thought/said!] Joseph tells his brothers ‘why did you steal from me? Don’t you know a man of my stature can divine’? The art of divination, or obtaining ‘secret knowledge’ thru spiritism existed in ancient times. The pagan nations even had priests for their false gods. All of this is Babylonian in nature and forbidden by God all thru out scripture. The fact that Joseph rose to fame because of his ‘interpreting of dreams’ surely put fear in people, they assumed he was a great ‘diviner’. Now Joseph has said all along that God was giving him the interpretations, but it’s likely that the broader culture just viewed Joseph thru the already existing paradigm of ‘divination’. All people are seeking for some spiritual meaning in life. They often flock to new age teachings or eastern religions. God condemns, in no uncertain terms, all uses of the horoscope and sorcery or witchcraft to seek ‘hidden sources of wisdom’. God does have prophets in the church [no new cannon, but true spiritual direction by those filled with the Holy Spirit] and of course God regularly gives directions to his kids by his Spirit. So I just wanted to clarify, just because this chapter says Joseph used the cup ‘to divine’ in no way means that Joseph was ‘divining’ in the mystical sense.
- GENESIS 45- Joseph could not restrain himself any longer and reveals himself to his brothers. His brothers are absolutely shocked. They are hearing him in his own voice [my sheep hear my voice- Jesus] for the first time, they are beginning to see the actual image of their lost brother in the face of this sovereign person who they have been coming to and bowing to and submitting to. They came late to the table, the entire gentile nation [Egypt and the surrounding nations] have already been submitting to him for a while [Christ and the church made up of gentile nations] but Israel has been slow to respond. And since they have been responding they had no idea of the actual identity of this great ruler. Sure, these gentile nations knew his name was Joseph and they heard all the great stories about his rise to power. But the brothers of Joseph were simply submitting to this governor out of necessity. They actually were learning the ropes of how to come to this sovereign and to bow before him with requests [The Jews sure know how to pray to Jehovah, they have the Wailing Wall!] but to hear this ruler say ‘I am your brother Joseph, who you betrayed’ is almost unbelievable to accept! Now Joseph sees the look on their faces. He tells them ‘come here, I am Joseph your brother’ he has to explain the enormity of this revelation. They can’t connect the ruler with their former knowledge of their own flesh! Israel [the nation] has stumbled over the reality of their home town boy actually being their Messiah. Scripture says Jesus is the actual image of the invisible God, we see God and who he is thru Christ. For the brothers to be looking at the actual lord of the land, someone who they have been ‘submitting to’ already [Jehovah] and then to hear ‘I am Joseph’ [Jesus] out of the actual lips of the ruling authority himself, is very hard to grasp. The nation of Israel has been waiting and believing for the Messiah for 2 thousand years. They pray to Jehovah. The stumbling block is in their inability to actually see the face of Jesus in their God! He truly is the image of the invisible God. Now Joseph reassures them that everything that happened to him was truly a sovereign act of God to preserve life. He holds no grudges! [Father forgive them, for they know not what they do]. Pharaoh hears about this great reunion and tells him to go get the rest of his family and bring them back [to Goshen]. Jacob hears the news of his son’s authority and is shocked. He learns that his son is alive, and Lord of the land, all in one day [Scripture says a nation will be born in a day. Referring to Israel’s national repentance and acceptance of Messiah at the second coming- Romans]. So they make preparations to come to Egypt and for all the family to settle down together. I want to stress the importance of seeing the reaction of Egypt [gentile nations] when they hear that Josephs blood relatives are coming to benefit from the lordship of Joseph. The gentile nations are happy and glad to see the reunion! Much like the reaction that Paul writes about in Romans ‘if their falling away [The Jews rejection of Messiah] was for the benefit of all the gentiles [just like Josephs rejection by his brothers was for the benefit of saving Egypt and the surrounding countries] so how much greater will it be when they are reunited with Christ’. Scripture teaches us that it was for the gentile’s salvation that the nation of Israel rejected Christ’s Lordship. So when Israel returns home to their true Messiah, the gentile church will rejoice! I also want to make a note here, you will notice that Jacob had to relocate from the promised land and move over into the region [church- made up of gentile nations] in order to benefit from Josephs rule. Make no mistake about it, at the time of Israel’s conversion she will see that her clinging on to the old culture of law and sacrifice will have to be left behind in order to benefit from the bread that Jesus [Joseph] will provide. Jacob and the boys will carry some degree of national identity with them, after all they are still ‘Israel’, but the relocation from their land speaks of the willingness to uproot and journey towards the messiah.
- GENESIS 46-47- Jacob and the family pack up and head to Egypt. They bring 70 ‘souls’ with them. Remember, Jacob is always thinking ‘dynasty’. He has a track record of worrying about his family getting wiped out. He is still relatively small for a ‘nation’ but getting bigger by the day. He enters Egypt and sees Joseph for the first time. What a reunion! I guess now that Jacob realizes all of his worrying was for naught, all the times he allowed his mind to think the worst about stuff, I guess now he learned his lesson? Not. Pharaoh asks him ‘so, how old are you, aren’t you glad to see Joseph? How has life been treating you?’ Jacob responds ‘my days are 130 years, not even close to my forefathers. And they have been short and evil’. Wow, Pharaoh thinks ‘sorry I asked’. Now as Jacob settles down in Goshen, all the nations are coming to Joseph to be sustained. The years of famine that Pharaoh dreamt about are here. Notice something; all the nations spend all their money and the ‘money fails’. Did you know that the overall theme of money taught by Jesus and the apostles was ‘it will someday fail’? James says ‘the rich mans money will evaporate in the day of judgment and it will be to no avail’. Proverbs says the rich mans wealth can not deliver his soul during trouble. Jesus over and over again used examples of people putting their hopes in riches and forgetting the reality of death and judgment. In this chapter the money failed! Now, the nations sell their cattle and lands and eventually themselves to Pharaoh [Joseph]. Joseph and Jacob as well as Joseph and Pharaoh [this one] are types of Jesus and the father. In this case Joseph ‘purchases’ all the people for Pharaoh. Jesus bought us all by his blood. Now, even though I go hard on the prosperity guys, here’s some practical financial advice. Joseph tells the people ‘take the corn [grain-seed] and use it to feed your families and cattle, but plant some of it in the ground for heavens sake!’ he is teaching the mentality of ‘feed a man a fish and you feed him for the day- teach a man to fish and you feed him for life’. Joseph is trying to break the entitlement mentality. Showing the people that a portion of their increase should be invested. Don’t take all your money every month and spend it all. Give a portion to God, and put some in a savings/investment. If you spend all the money you earn [eat all the seeds] then you will be living from paycheck to paycheck. ‘Well brother, I am trusting in social security’ not if you’re a cessationist [someone who believes miracles don’t happen any more] because it would take a miracle for the government to not bankrupt the thing! So we see balance in this chapter. Good financial advice along with the reality that some day ‘your money will fail’. Good Christians maintain good balance.
- GENESIS 48- Jacob is old and ready to die. He calls Joseph and his boys. Jacob reminds Joseph that God called him many years before at Luz [Bethel]. Jacob is instilling in his son the reality of him and his family being a part of the divine plan. In essence ‘God has called us to great things, he chose me for this many years ago, you my son are simply an incarnate part of his divine purpose’. Now Jacob does something interesting. Joseph’s boys, Manasseh and Ephraim, are here to see Jacob [grandpa] before he dies. Jacob gives the honor of making Josephs 2 son’s equal heirs with the other boys. Joseph’s sons share equally in the inheritance of the 12 tribes. Jacob also says the younger one [Ephraim] shall be greater than the older one. Joseph kind of says ‘dad, you have your hand of blessing on the wrong boy, your right hand should be on Manasseh’. The right hand denotes special authority and favor. Jacob says ‘don’t worry son, I know what I am doing. God will bless your oldest son, but truly the greater blessing is on the youngest’. Now, to be honest, as I study the history of these boys thru the scripture, it doesn’t seem to me that any thing ‘extra special’ happened to Ephraim. I think Jacob might have made a mistake common to people with destiny. He read his own story line into the lineage of his sons. He might have felt that because God showed him special favor by honoring him over his older brother Esau that this mode of operation was to become a long term thing. Many divisions exist in the Body of Christ today because of this reasoning. I have taught tons of stuff on the idea of local church and how many good men seem to mistake a ‘mode of operation’ that worked well for them, but to then try and read this into the up and coming generation in a way that might be wrong. Paul taught in Corinthians that though there is one Spirit, yet there are many different ‘administrations’ and out workings of the gifts. We often read that passage in a way that says ‘in the Sunday ‘local church building’ mindset, you have different ways God works’. But it is actually saying ‘the Sunday building mindset is only one of the various ways the Spirit works’. Now I know Paul wasn’t directly talking ‘Sunday church’ in the passage, but the point is when the New Testament speaks of different ‘administrations’ and ways the Spirit manifests thru the people of God, it is speaking of Gods ability to manifest himself ‘outside of the box’. Jacob experienced God thru a mode that said ‘the younger shall serve the older’ I think he might have over done it when he tried to project this ‘mode’ onto his posterity!
- GENESIS 49- Jacob gathers the boys together to give them a blessing. He realizes the importance of launching them with both blessings and rebukes! Why does he mention the mistakes and failures of the boys? Rueben is unstable like water; he acted spontaneously and out of jealousy. Simeon and Levi have an anger problem. In today’s ‘church world’ we focus and confess the desired outcomes of what we seem to want. We feel it is against a life of faith to even hear or receive reproof. I watched one of the fathers of the prosperity movement the other day. He was overseas doing a convention. I watch now out of prayer and agreeing as much as possible with parts of the meeting. I see this as a function of the prophetic, a willingness to intercede and agree as much as possible with those you have disagreements with. To be honest, you could see a real sense of uneasiness in the audience. It was almost as if these believers were somewhat familiar with this man, but the teachings were really off. During the service the speaker said how people have come up to him and said ‘did you read that book about you’? People who have begun to learn of the errors of this movement. The teacher said he never reads or listens to those who try to rebuke or correct him. This was obvious as to the fact that the meeting ended in the teacher saying ‘satan, get your hands off my money’ in a very aggressive and angry voice. He was leading the people in prayer and said this. The whole thing was very sad. Now Jacob flat out tells the boys where they have done wrong and went off course, he makes no bones about it. These boys heard criticism that was needful. But he also gives some great blessings. I have already internalized and added the blessings from Judah ‘the scepter shall not depart from you’ ‘your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies’ ‘as a young lion you will crouch down and go up from the prey’. To Joseph ‘you are like a bough by a spring of water, a well. Your branches flow over the wall’ a type of regional influence, reaching beyond your ‘city borders’. The archers hated you and shot at you but did not prevail, but to the contrary your bow has prevailed. The purpose of God for Joseph and his ‘targeting’ of prophetic arrows of destiny would win. These are great promises to these boys. Jacob speaks to his sons as he prepares to die. He wants more than just a successful career during his lifetime, he wants to launch a movement [dynasty] that for generations to come would carry the torch of the original purpose. Jacob tells the boys ‘I am now going to die’ and he instructs them to bury him in the dirt of destiny! He wants to lay in the ground where he first met and learned of the fatherhood of God. He ‘slept’ before in the land and had a true ‘out of body’ experience at Bethel [Not a new age thing, but a real visitation from God]. He will reconnect with this destiny even in death. We still have one chapter left in Genesis, but we have really closed the book for the most part on this entire journey of Jacob and his boys. There is a real sense of this family living and dying with Gods destiny upon them. I want to ‘charge’ all of our readers and ‘family’ to reassess at this point in life. Bring things back into alignment with the true eternal values that count. I know we have rubbed people the wrong way because of our strong stance on a lot of issues. I have been ‘shot at by arrows’ many times, but I feel the Lord has allowed our ‘bow to prevail’ not for the targeting or hurting of people, but for the target that the Lord wants to hit. Children are like arrows in the hand of a mighty man, when they launch in the right direction they hit the target very time.
- GENESIS 50- Jacob dies and Joseph buries him in the Promised Land. The cave that Abraham bought years ago as a sign that they would remain in the land of destiny, they even buried their bodies as ‘seed’ in the land! Now the mourning for Jacob is intense. All Egypt and the people of Canaan see what a great loss this is. After Jacobs’s death, the brothers fear Joseph will finally take revenge! They send a messenger to say ‘we are sorry for betraying you as a boy, please spare us’. Joseph is surprised his brothers are still afraid. He assures them all is well, as they come and BOW DOWN TO HIM. Wow, many years earlier it was this very dream ‘shall we bow down to you?’ that caused their jealousy and betrayal. Now that it is being fulfilled to the tee, they are happy to do it, and Joseph feels no glory out of it! This is how scripture is fulfilled when it says ‘you shall see your desire on you enemies’ ‘the sons of those who hated you shall bow down to you’ it is fulfilled not in a self glorying way, but in a prophetic way in order to benefit those who hated and despised you years earlier! I find it funny how some people thru the years will initially meet me at a homeless mission or some other venue where I am just hanging out with buddies. Sometimes I have been treated ‘less than honorably’ by the Christians who think I am just a homeless guy. Now I am not pretending to be homeless! It’s just these guys are really some of my best buddies who I have been around for years. Sometimes I have been yelled at ‘you idiot, get your hands off of that drink’ when I accidentally took a soda 2 minutes before the official lunch bell. Others who are Christians and treat disdainfully some guy who they hear ‘he thinks he is a preacher’ from the homeless guys. It’s a sad commentary on the way believers treat the down and out with such little respect. Now years later some of them actually become students of the ministry, at first finding it hard to associate the ‘radio preacher’ or ‘blog writer’ with the guy that they cursed out at one time. But they are glad to ‘bow down’ [submit] and receive from the ministry. Some will even give the feeling of ‘now that we realize he isn’t a homeless guy, lets get together and talk spiritual stuff’. Sort of the idea that ‘the elite class’ can now accept you, because we see you as elite too. I don’t push them away, I just treat them like any one else. Whether they are ‘elite’ or homeless. In Josephs case he wasn’t thinking ‘now I got you guys, you said you would never bow, well look at you punks now’. He acted right. Joseph also gives a prophecy that after many years God will bring them up out of Egypt and into the land of destiny. Jacob and his sons came into Egypt as a fairly small band of people, they will spend 400 years in difficulty and oppression. God will use this ‘furnace of affliction’ to bring them to a point of supernatural signs and deliverance under Moses. They will add an extra 40 years delay in the wilderness due to their rebellion, and they will once again enter into the land where years earlier Abraham bought the burial ground. The land where Isaac experienced his God, the place where Jacob dealt with his fears and inadequacy. They will come back like stromtroopers as they cross the Jordan and instill fear into the inhabitants of Canaan. God said he would give the land to their forefathers, he kept his promise!