Monthly Archives: July 2012

Genesis 9: Our Perspective Is Not God’s Perspective

The beginning of Genesis chapter 9 is really a remarkable sign of provision.

When we last left Noah, he was busy building an altar as an act of praise. Now, we hear what God tells him to do now that he has survived the flood.

Gen 9:1  And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

Gen 9:2  And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.

Gen 9:3  Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.

In verse two, it is incredibly interesting that God mentions the fact that the animals will fear humans. That implies that before the flood, the relationship between humans and animals was different.

While I’m not exactly sure what that relationship was like, the simple fact of the matter was that they were not afraid before, and now they would be.

On one level, this is kind of a sad story. Who wants to see any type of creature afraid? Wouldn’t it be better to be friends with animals?

However, on another level, this fear is also necessary for the survival of these animals if you look at verse three. If humans were allowed to eat meat now, the animals needed to be afraid of those humans, or they could have easily been hunted to extinction.

This definitely is not the only time where something that seems a little bit negative is actually a positive thing.

A few days ago, I read through Genesis chapter 3, and if you have been reading with me, you’ll remember that that is the chapter describing the fall of Adam and Eve. If you recall, after they sinned, God made sure that they did not eat from the tree of life.

Again, on the surface, that is kind of a sad story because now humanity could never be immortal. Wouldn’t it be great to never die?

However, underneath, we can kind of see how this is a positive thing. If we were immortal, we would never leave this fallen world. With a very few exceptions, death is the way that we get to heaven assuming that we are saved.

Not a typically happy thought, but you can see how even when something happens that is seemingly negative, God built in a provision to make everything really work out for the better.

Probably not for the last time, I’m going to send it back to another one of my favorite Bible verses.

Jer 29:11  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

A lot of things happen that we may not understand at the time, but our perspective is not God’s perspective.

Genesis 8: Praise As Our First Reaction

There is a ton to write about in Genesis chapter 8, but I think that what I want to talk about today is found near the end of the chapter in verse 20.

To set the scene, the earth has finally dried up and it is time for everyone to go out from the ark. God told Noah the following:

Gen 8:16  Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons’ wives with thee.

Gen 8:17  Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee, of all flesh, both of fowl, and of cattle, and of every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may breed abundantly in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.

I am sure that this was welcome news. After being stuck in a giant boat with hundreds or thousands of animals, I’m sure that they were all excited to have a little bit more space and at least fresh air.

Noah definitely did what God told him yet again, but this time he did stop to do one thing first.

Gen 8:20  And Noah builded an altar unto the LORD; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.

Noah knew that the fact that he and his family survived the flood was due to the protection of God, and he rightfully offered up an offering of thanks.

It is very cool that that was his first reaction because that is where I want to be.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes my prayers turn into a list of everything that I want God to do. He is obviously open to hearing our requests, but He definitely wants to hear something else as well.

Php 4:6  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

As we make our requests known, we need to remember that being thankful is just as important. Even though we tend to get wrapped up in what we want God to do next, it is definitely helpful to look back and see all of the things that God has already done. Even on our worst day, we still have so many reasons to be thankful.

I guess that is my challenge for myself and everyone else for today.

Definitely make your requests known to God because we are told to do that in the aforementioned verse, but don’t forget the first part of that verse that talks about thanksgiving. The first thing that Noah did when he got off the ark was create an altar of praise.

That should be our first reaction as well.

Genesis 7: The Power of Being on Time

In Genesis 7, we are basically looking at the boarding of the ark as well as the beginning of the rain.

Quickly, as a slight continuation of yesterday, we see the fact that Noah was obedient in verse five and did exactly what he was commanded to do.

Actually, I think that this entire post will be mainly a continuation of yesterday but with a little different twist.

If you recall from yesterday, Noah was commanded to build the ark in a very specific way. He was given exact dimensions for everything, and I talked about how while it might not have practically mattered, it mattered because that was what God told him to do.

Today, we see another reason why it mattered.

Let me give you the verses to start us off.

Gen 7:13  In the selfsame day entered Noah, and Shem, and Ham, and Japheth, the sons of Noah, and Noah’s wife, and the three wives of his sons with them, into the ark;

Gen 7:14  They, and every beast after his kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind, and every fowl after his kind, every bird of every sort.

Gen 7:15  And they went in unto Noah into the ark, two and two of all flesh, wherein is the breath of life.

Gen 7:16  And they that went in, went in male and female of all flesh, as God had commanded him: and the LORD shut him in.

Gen 7:17  And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth.

God had previously told Noah that in seven days it would rain. He was under a time limit so to speak, and everything had to be prepared at the end of this seven days. In fact, we see in verse 16 that they did enter the ark on time and God shut the door.

Referring back to yesterday, if Noah had decided that he wanted the ark to be bigger, he would not have been able to finish the ark on time. Of course, if God wanted to, he could have easily extended the deadline, but I think that the important part here is that He didn’t have to.

Noah did what he had to do. He made sure that his project was done on time and was in accordance with the directions that God laid out.

I think that this is the take away for all of us again. When we do what God wants us to do, we also will be able to survive the floods that come into our life. We all have tough times, but we fortunately have a power source who can help us rise above all of it.

Php 4:13  I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

We know that Noah built the ark because God told him to. He probably would not have done something like that on his own. Similarly, we might think that situations are far too much to handle, but if we follow the will of God, He will provide us with the strength to make it happen.

Genesis 6: Follow the Directions God Gives

Genesis chapter 6 tells us a little something about Noah and the need for obedience.

You all know the story of how the earth had become a pretty bad place, and God decided that He was going to destroy almost all of the life that was on earth.

However, there were a few exceptions. Noah and his family were going to be put on an ark along with two of every type of animal.

There are a lot of animals on earth, and that boat obviously needed to be pretty huge.

What is interesting about this particular case is that God didn’t just say to build a giant boat and estimate how big you want it to be. Noah is given very explicit instructions on how big to build this boat in verses 15 and 16.

Gen 6:15  And this is the fashion which thou shalt make it of: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits.

Gen 6:16  A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.

This makes me think about a few different things.

First, God knew exactly how big the ark needed to be. Noah might not have known how big to build the ark, but as we find out later in verse 22, he followed the directions perfectly.

On the most practical level, following these definite directions made sure that there was enough room for all of the animals.

However, on a more spiritual level, these verses can teach us a lesson in obedience. For example, did it really matter if there was a window in the ark? Actually, it did matter.

It mattered because that was how Noah was told to make it. Could he have made the ark 301 cubits long? I’m sure he could have, but he didn’t.

Sometimes, we all tend to rebel from time to time. We all know that lying is wrong, but every now and then one might slip out to cover yourself. Or, we are told that coveting is wrong, but we always compare what we have to what our friends have.

Listening to how explicitly Noah followed God’s directions made me think about how explicitly all of us should follow what we read about God’s directions in the Bible. If he tells us to do something or not to do something, it isn’t really just a suggestion.

Genesis 5: All That We Know about Enoch

Genesis 5 is essentially a genealogy from Adam all the way to Noah. However, it is home to one of my favorite biblical figures. He is only mentioned for a few verses, but I think that he has something good to tell us about our reputation.

Let me start you out with the verses.

Gen 5:19  And Jared lived after he begat Enoch eight hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:

Gen 5:20  And all the days of Jared were nine hundred sixty and two years: and he died.

Gen 5:21  And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:

Gen 5:22  And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:

Gen 5:23  And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:

Gen 5:24  And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

We really don’t know very much about Enoch. We know that his father was Jared, we know that his son was Methuselah (who lived longer than any man in history) and we know that Enoch walked with God and was taken by God.

On occasion, I know that we sometimes use taken as a euphemism for dying, but I don’t think that is what we are talking about here. There is mention of death in verse 20, but using the cool notes in my computer Bible, I can tell you the Hebrew word in that verse is different than the one he used in verse 24. Something different happened there which may be along the lines of Elijah being taken directly to heaven without dying, but we don’t even know exactly how to Enoch was taken.

Ultimately, his whole life is summarized by the fact that he walked with God. Surely, if he was walking with God, he did some great things with his life, but we don’t hear about those.

While personally I would like to hear about those for the sake of completeness in this story, the same thing that mattered in Enoch’s life is ultimately what matters in each of our lives.

As Christians, we have a responsibility to walk with God. Everything that we can do on earth will fade away. Even if we are doing exactly what God wants us to do, it will physically fade away. A good example of that is Noah.

God commanded him to build that giant boat, so he was perfectly in line with God’s will. However, that ark fell apart. It was made of wood just like everything else and decomposed on top of the mountain.

However, that relationship that Noah and God built is still alive and well in heaven. That is what matters in our lives as well. God may have amazing things for us to do while we are here on earth, but in the long run, what really matters is whether or not we have that personal relationship with Him.

So, even though we really don’t know a whole lot about who Enoch was, isn’t that a great legacy? Shouldn’t we all strive to make sure that people realize that our life is defined by the fact that we walk with God?

Genesis 4: God Doesn’t Leave Us Because We Mess up

In terms of messing things up, you have to admit that Cain made a pretty big mess of his life. After all, he murdered his brother out of jealousy. Murder and intense jealousy are hard to live down.

As a result of his actions, God did curse him. He said that his crops would not grow for him, and he was condemned to be virtually a wanderer for the rest of his life.

Gen 4:10  And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.

Gen 4:11  And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand;

Gen 4:12  When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.

Of course, Cain wasn’t thrilled to hear this news. Here’s what he said in verses 13 and 14.

Gen 4:13  And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.

Gen 4:14  Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.

Of course, if I was just handed such a direct and serious punishment from God himself, I don’t think my reaction would be much different.

However, he did miss the point on one thing. In verse 14, he made the assertion that because of his sin, God would hide him from His face. Essentially, he was insinuating that because of his actions, he had absolutely no hope.

Sin does separate us from God, but even murder does not take us away from His love. This is evident when you look at God’s response to Cain’s concern that anyone who sees him will kill him.

Gen 4:15  And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

Even though he had obviously committed one of the worst crimes on earth, God still assured him that he wouldn’t be murdered. His punishment wasn’t removed in the least, but by God showing concern, it is evident that Cain was not hidden from the face of God as he was worried about.

This is a nice assurance. I definitely never plan on murdering anyone, but I still am a sinner as much as that murderer is. We all fall short of perfection, so we all need salvation. However, it is nice to know that even if we do terrible things, God does not abandon us.

This story makes me think of the criminals who were crucified beside Jesus. We don’t exactly know what those men had done beyond the fact that they were thieves, but it was obviously something pretty bad if they were being crucified. However, one of them was assured of salvation by Jesus himself because of his faith.

People do many bad things, but God doesn’t automatically turn away from us because we fall drastically short of perfection. God is love, and we need to ask for and accept His forgiveness. He has offered it to us.

Genesis 3: Temptation Is Ultimately Based on an Impossible Promise

It is kind of funny. We oftentimes think that knowing everything would be pretty awesome. However, that same desire got the best of Eve in Genesis 3.

This is again a very popular story, but you all know that the serpent came to Eve to tempt her. More specifically, in Genesis 3:5, we find out how he tried to appeal to her.

Gen 3:5  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Obviously, he wanted her to think that they would be on the level of God just because they would know about good and evil. I think that part of the equation is missing.

Even though Adam and Eve had not sinned until they ate of the fruit, they never possessed all of the characteristics of God. They were still humans, and even though humans were created in God’s image, we do not possess all of His characteristics. For example, humans were never omnipresent.

In one sense, when they did eat fruit, they did acquire a characteristic that God does possess. Before this, they did not understand the problem with or consequences of sin. God always did, and so I guess that in some sense, they did “gain” that knowledge.

However, even that one piece of knowledge that could possibly be shared between God and humanity is somewhat suspect.

Humans view sin through our own fallen perspective. We do not have entire group of characteristics and attributes of God as when he views our sins. Here’s a pretty good list of a bunch of those characteristics from Theopedia. Without the same characteristics, we do not understand things the way that God does. He sees a much bigger picture than we do

How could you logically anticipate that even with the knowledge that evil does exist we would all of a sudden become like God and act the same way?

This is just an illustration of how powerful deception can be. Even though in reality it was impossible for Eve to become God, she was regrettably swayed by a difficult argument.

This is particularly a warning to me. There are many ways that we can be tempted, and many of them definitely sound attractive. However, in the long run, these lies are often built on the premise that is impossible. Really, when you think about the base of it all, the basic message behind temptation is that you will be better off by doing something wrong, and we all know that sin is ultimately destructive.

Just like Eve didn’t and realistically couldn’t become God when she ate that fruit, our temptations will ultimately lead to dead ends as well. We need to be vigilant.

Genesis 2: Walk in the Right Direction

You know, one of my favorite geographical questions to think about is where the Garden of Eden was actually located (and I do realize that it is somewhat sad that I have a favorite geographical question).

However, here is what we do know drawing from Genesis 2:10-14.

Gen 2:10  And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

Gen 2:11  The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;

Gen 2:12  And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.

Gen 2:13  And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.

Gen 2:14  And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.

This does give us some information as to where the Garden was located, but it isn’t like we were handed the latitude and longitude. We can’t punch the address into a GPS and find our way to it.

We simply do not know where two of these rivers were, so it is hard to nail down this region as precisely as we might want to.

That being said, we know a little bit. The Euphrates River is still around today, and I could hypothetically give you directions on how to get to that river. I could put you in the right direction and at least in the proximity of the Garden.

I kind of think this is kind of how we are expected to live our lives. We are not omniscient, so we definitely don’t know or understand everything, but through the Bible and guidance from the Holy Spirit, we know that we can head in the right direction.

While it may seem frustrating that we don’t know everything, like I wrote yesterday, God has a plan for each and every one of us. We might be able to sense the direction He wants us to go in, but we won’t know exactly what that path holds or where exactly we might end up. However, it is still our responsibility to move in that direction and do what we are commanded to do.

In order to move in that direction, we do need to live in obedience. How do we do that? Mark 12:30-31 gives us a good place to start on how to head in the right direction.

Mar 12:30  And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.

Mar 12:31  And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Just like we don’t understand why everything happens in our lives, we know enough about the character of God to comprehend through the Bible how we can head in the right direction.

Genesis 1: Even in the Beginning, There Was a Plan

I guess there is something to be said for starting out on one of the most controversial topics in the entire Bible.

Now, creationism and evolution have been the topic of numerous books, movies, sermons and conferences. I believe that it is a very important question and debate, and I believe in creationism in case you’re wondering. We can talk about that some other time, but I want to try to bring you something a little bit different that maybe you hadn’t thought of before.

I want to call your attention specifically to something very interesting in Genesis 1:14.

Gen 1:14  And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

If you have spent very much time in church, you know the order of creation. You know that on the fourth day, the sun, moon and stars were created.

For the record, many people might get confused and think that this is referring to astrological signs. However, using the translation dictionary I have on my computer Bible produced by e-Sword, in the original Hebrew, the word was oth which referred to a signal, beacon or flag.

However, as I was reading this, I started thinking about Matthew 2:2. Again, this is another really familiar passage that you probably read at least once a year.

Mat 2:2  Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

Of course, this is the account of the wise men visiting Herod and asking him where they could find Jesus who had recently been born (I know that there is some debate as to how long it took the wise men to come “from the east”, but the point is that they came to see Jesus).

Notice that they emphasize the fact that they saw a star.

Way back in Genesis, God said that the stars were going to be used for signs. I don’t know why this really stood out to me, and I can’t say that I never noticed this before, but even in the first chapter of the Bible, we are already seeing how God has planned everything.

He knew that He was going to use a star to point people to Jesus. Isn’t it kind of amazing that Jesus would not be on earth for a long time, but the stars were already assigned the duty of being used as signs? I think that first of all it is amazing, but secondly, it reaffirmed another verse for me.

Jer 29:11  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.

Both of these verses help to explain His omniscience. Just like He knew that a star would be a sign to Jesus, our path and journey is expected as well. Isn’t it nice to know that we are not alone?

This chapter is monumentally important and I’m sure that you have talked about it and/or read it many times.

However, this sense of a huge plan gave me particular comfort today. It is nice to know that even when He was originally orchestrating the universe, God was working quite a ways, in fact all the way, down the timeline. He holds the future, and we just need to trust.