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Posts Tagged ‘Genesis Devotional’

When Faith is Stumbling Faith

abram egyptNow there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land. And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that he said to Sarai his wife, “Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance. Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. Please say you are my sister, that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.” So it was, when Abram came into Egypt, that the Egyptians saw the woman, that she was very beautiful. The princes of Pharaoh also saw her and commended her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken to Pharaoh’s house. He treated Abram well for her sake. He had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female servants, female donkeys, and camels. But the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. And Pharaoh called Abram and said, “What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife? Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’? I might have taken her as my wife. Now therefore, here is your wife; take her and go your way.” So Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they sent him away, with his wife and all that he had. (Genesis 12:10-20)

Although the text doesn’t say so specifically, some Bible commentators believe that Abram should not have gone down to Egypt to escape the famine. They believe Abram should have remained in the land of promise, and that the LORD would have somehow provided for him there. They point out that later in the Bible’s history, Egypt became a picture of the world; therefore, for Abram to go to Egypt in a time of trouble was tantamount to going to the world for help instead of going to God Himself.

This is a tenable point of view. After all, God called Abram to Canaan, not to Egypt. And, Abram being in Egypt did not work out too well. On top of what happens in Genesis 12, they brought an Egyptian slave girl back to Canaan with them, and that resulted in further complications for this family (Genesis 16).

Nevertheless, Abram ended up in Egypt. Then another problem was created, stemming from the fact that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. To have her, the Egyptians could very well have killed Abram. So Abram concocted a plan which involved the telling of a half-truth. Sarai was indeed Abram’s half-sister, as they had the same father (Genesis 20:12). But the fact remained: she was primarily Abram’s wife. Thus, his half-truth was really a lie.

Pharaoh had no idea he had been lied to. God’s mercy kept him from sinning against Him and against Abram, although it required radical measures (the plagues against Pharaoh’s household) to get the king’s attention. Apparently, that was what Pharaoh needed. Later, ten plagues were required to convince another Pharaoh that he should let Israel go away from Egypt.

While being merciful to Pharaoh, the LORD was also being merciful to Abram. He too was kept from egregious sin … he was kept from sinning against the LORD, and from sinning against his wife by putting her into an immoral and potentially dangerous situation.

For Further Review

1.  Have you ever relied upon the world (1 John 2:15-16) in a situation wherein you actually should have relied on the Lord? What was the outcome? What did you learn from that situation?

2.  Why is a half-truth actually a lie? Why is it morally wrong to lie?

3.  Cite an example in your own life when the Lord kept you from committing a horrible sin. Now consider Matthew 6:13. Why is it important to pray that prayer every day? 

 

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The Blessing of Abraham

theblessingofabrahamNow the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)

Through this man Abram, the LORD would bless the entire world. Abram blessed every subsequent generation by:

  • his calling, as he was directed by God to be a blessing … thus Abram’s calling was a missionary calling, and his offspring were also to be others-centered, to teach the non-Jewish world about who God is…
  • his example, as he obeyed God and departed from his former heathen culture…
  • his separation, as he rejected the idolatry of Ur of the Chaldeans to believe in the one true and living God, the God revealed through His creation and in the Bible…
  • his faith, as he believed in the promise of God for his life and was thus justified (Genesis 15:6)…
  • his walk with God, as he demonstrated what it means to be God’s friend (James 2:23)…
  • his obedience, as he was willing to offer his own son as an offering to God, believing that God would raise the young man from the dead to fulfill His promise to Abram (Genesis 22 cf. Hebrews 11:17-19)…
  • his offspring, becoming the father of the Jewish people, who have immeasurably benefitted the world in a myriad of ways…
  • his Seed, the Messiah of Israel and Savior of the world, Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:16,19).

Those who bless Abraham and his appointed offspring (the Jews) shall be blessed.

Those who curse Abraham and his appointed offspring (the Jews) shall be cursed.

Consider the following nations, and what happened to each of them after they decided to act against Israel and her right to exist as a sovereign nation: Rome, Greece, Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Babylon, Great Britain, Germany, Iraq, Iran, etc. (the list is continuing to grow).

God intends to bless His chosen people, and nothing anyone will ever do can counteract His blessing.

For Further Review

1.  How has the example of Abram affected your life, generally? How about personally? What does Abram’s life mean to you?

2.  Looking at the ways Abram blessed every generation, which of these are most important to you? Which are most important to the entire world?

3.  Take some time today to pray for the nation of Israel (Psalm 122:6,7), and be sure to bless and support them in their right to exist as a people in their own land.

Delayed Obedience

tumblr_lzw15b7cMP1r0j9r8o1_500And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there. So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran. (Genesis 11:31-32)

Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1)

Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. One of the three, Shem, has a genealogy that proceeds all the way to Abram (later, Abraham) and eventually to Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:1-17).

 

Abram would become the friend of God, the progenitor of the nation of Israel, and the father of faith for Jews and Gentiles. Needless to say, Abram was a very important human being, with a colossal calling upon his life.

Because of God’s call upon his life, it was necessary for Abram to separate himself … he was commanded by God to remove himself from his immediate surroundings and culture (from Ur of the Chaldeans), and even from his own family. Nothing should get in the way of the LORD’s will for this man. Abram needed to belong wholly to the LORD. If Abram were not wholly His, he could not discover or fulfill God’s purposes. God would have to look elsewhere for a yielded vessel to use.

It is a curious thing, but important to notice, that Abram does not immediately obey the command to separate from his family and father’s house. Putting the Genesis history together with the history recorded in Acts 7:2-4, we discover that these promises and commands were given to Abram before he left the land of the Chaldeans. So when Abram waited for his father Terah to die before he left Haran, his obedience was a delayed obedience.

This delayed obedience could have cost Abram dearly, but because God is faithful, merciful, and gracious, His promises to this man remained intact. For God, delayed obedience is better than no obedience at all (see Matthew 21:28-31a).

For Further Review

1.  Have you discovered God’s call upon your life? If not, what will you need to do in order to discover it?

2.  How important is it to you that God has placed a call upon your life? What hindrances have you discovered that threaten to keep you from God’s best for your life?

3.  Is there anything that God has commanded you to do that you’ve not yet obeyed? Name it, admit it to God, and then ask Him for wisdom and strength that you might do it. For greater accountability, share these things with a mentor, relative, or friend.

The Birth and Early Life of Abraham

March 26, 2014 3 comments

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This is the genealogy of Shem … then Shem begot Arphaxad, then Arphaxad begot Salah, then Salah begot Eber, then Eber begot Peleg, then Peleg begot Reu, then Reu begot Serug, then Serug begot Nahor, then Nahor begot Terah, then Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. (Genesis 11:10-27)

And Haran died before his father Terah in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans. Then Abram and Nahor took wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and the father of Iscah. But Sarai was barren; she had no child. And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there. So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran. (Genesis 11:28-32)

It was time. It was God’s time to continue with His plan of salvation by picking out an individual who would be the father of faith for all who would be justified in God’s sight. This continuation started with Shem, the father of the Semitic peoples. His family line continued nine generations to Abram, and Abram (“high father”) would become Abraham (“father of a multitude)—the father of the Hebrew and Arab people.

Abraham is a huge Biblical figure, being the father of faith to all who believe—whether Jew or Gentile (Romans 4:16; Galatians 3:7-9). Ultimately, Abraham’s family line would continue all the way to Jesus Christ, the Hebrew Messiah and Savior of the whole world (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38; 1 John 2:2).

Looking at a graphic of the overall lifespans from Noah to Jacob’s son Joseph, one can see that Shem was alive for Abraham’s entire lifetime … due to the fact that Shem lived to be 600, while Abraham lived to be “only” 175. Another interesting chronological note: Noah also was still alive by the time Abraham was born! What this shows is that there was contact from generation to generation in those days. Therefore, God’s truth and deeds could easily be preserved and furthered.

God still works His plan through willing human beings. Shem showed fear and respect for God by covering his father Noah rather than exposing him as Ham had done, and God used him. Abraham lived a godly life and was obviously a willing vessel, bringing glory to God (Matthew 5:16).

For Further Review

1.  Consider the historical events leading up to Abraham … the creation, the fall, the beginnings of civilization, the universal spread of depravity, the flood, the earth’s repopulation, the tower of Babel, God’s judgment which brought the confusion of languages and the geographical spread of the world’s population. Spend some time meditating on the big picture of the mercy and patience of God. Praise Him for His longsuffering nature.

2.  Why was Abraham an important historical figure? What does his life mean in relationship to plan of salvation for the whole world?

3.  Have you ordered your life that you may be a willing and available vessel for God’s purposes? What can you do to ensure that God can use you?

United Aspirations for Evil

Tower_of_BabelNow the whole earth had one language and one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:1-4)

Here is a provocative question: how and when did the human race gain the faculty of speech? The Bible answers it: God spoke to Adam, who understood what he was told. God then gave mankind the faculty of speech. This phrase does not merely describe the physical capacity to form words … it also refers to the actual words used (language). 

In other words, God gave human beings the capacity of human speech and the specifics of human language. We see this fact in our first parents. Adam possessed the ability to have an intelligent conversation (Genesis 2:233:2, 10, 12, 13) and even had the ability to create new words: “So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field” (Genesis 2:20). 

Problems arose when the hearts of men became increasingly evil, even after the judgment of the great flood. And because there was only one language spoken on the earth, man’s capacity to fulfill his wicked intentions also grew. Man’s pride and rejection of God resulted in the building of a city and the tower of Babel. This was not a good thing. 

The city centralized a large portion of human population. The tower centralized their worship of demons (1 Corinthians 10:20). 

“The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:19) was not a Jack and the Beanstalk-type of construction, where people were trying to build a structure to get into heaven. Instead, it is best understood as an ancient ziggurat (Assyrian for “mountaintop”) … a ziggurat was a man-made structure with a temple at its top, built to worship the host of heaven” (Dr. David P. Livingston, Associates for Bible Research- http://christiananswers.net/dictionary/nimrod.html). 

Man is incurably proud and idolatrous. In the natural, humans love to imagine living a life without God. They think: “Life without God will preserve our autonomy. We can live as we choose.

But such a life is not only humanistic, self-focused, and shallow … it is also unlivable. The spread of darkness in a culture without God removes all trace of light. Without light man cannot see, and without light the color and beauty of life vanishes. Wickedness thrives where there is no light.

“And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:19-21)

For Further Review

1.  The capacity to hear God’s voice and to speak to Him is among our greatest blessings. Find a passage that promises that believers in Christ can hear God’s voice.

2.  What is so evil about idolatry? Are there any idols currently living in your heart right now? If so, take some time to confess them and forsake them right now (Proverbs 28:13).

Grace that Covers Sin

graceAnd Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and went backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned away, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. So Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done to him. Then he said: “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants He shall be to his brethren.” And he said: “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and may he dwell in the tents of Shem; and may Canaan be his servant.” And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years. So all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years; and he died. (Genesis 9:22-29) 

A situation had developed in Noah’s tent. Noah had gotten drunk and while in his drunken state—fast asleep—he “became uncovered” (verse 21). It is evident from the text that some sort of lewd act was performed by Noah’s son Ham. Verse 22 states that Ham “saw the nakedness of his father,” and verse 24 states that when Noah awoke he “knew what his younger son had done to him.” Something happened to Noah. If it were only a matter of Ham seeing his father naked, no mention would have been made of something happening. But something did happen, something unspeakable and shameful. Later in the law to uncover someone’s nakedness equaled some sort of sexual deviancy (Leviticus 18:6-19; 20:11-17-21). 

Shem and Japheth were the honorable ones here … they covered the nakedness of their father. They did not expose it, they covered it. This is a tremendous spiritual reminder to do the same for others, as God has for us (1 Peter 4:8; James 5:20; Proverbs 10:12; Psalms 32:1; 85:2). 

With regard to our own sin, we must expose and admit it to God (and if necessary to others) in confession (Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9; James 5:16). With regard to other’s sins, we do our best to cover them unless it is a matter of church discipline or legal accountability.

 Canaan bore the curse of his father’s transgression. Likely this was a prophetic curse. Gazing into the future of the Canaanite people, they became utterly despicable in thought, word, and deed. Their evil was so pervasive that as a people they were unredeemable. As with the culture prior to the great flood, judgment was God’s only option for them. 

Noah lived hundreds of years after this incident, no doubt years of further godliness and influence. This incident does not define him, as our sins do not necessarily define us. 

For Further Review

1.  Think about the actions of Shem and Japheth. How is it a loving thing to cover another’s transgressions? See 1 Peter 4:8.

2.  Why is it important to confess our own sin, while covering another’s? What is the blessed outcome of each action?

3.  Consider the concept our sins do not necessarily define us. How has the grace of God in Christ affected the believer’s identity?

Great Is His Faithfulness

great_is_thy_faithfulness5Pre-flood 

“You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth.” (Genesis 7:2-3) 

Post-flood 

Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the LORD smelled a soothing aroma. Then the LORD said in His heart, “I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done. While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:20-22) 

The LORD loves the smell of a good BBQ, especially when they are burnt offerings. The burnt offering represented the worshiper giving his/her entire life to God in worshipful devotion. It was a sacrifice which was wholly consumed upon the altar. As Noah offered these sacrifices, they were a “soothing” aroma to Him (restful, i.e. pleasant- Strong’s Dictionary). After the work of judgment, these sacrifices were a welcome thing to the LORD. 

Today, true believers offer their bodies to God as living sacrifices, not dead ones. 

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Romans 12:1-2) 

At the flood’s end, God promised to never again destroy every living thing. God derives no pleasure from the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11) and loves mercy more that He loves justice (Micah 7:18; Ephesians 2:4-7; 1 John 4:7-9). 

Rather, He promised that there would be consistency that mankind could rely upon year after year. There would be predictable times of sowing and reaping, predictable seasons, and predictable times of day and night. All this was that human beings would know His faithfulness and rejoice in who He is. 

Summer and winter
And springtime and harvest
Sun moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love 
 
(Hymn: “Great Is Thy Faithfulness, verse two. Lyrics, Thomas O. Chisolm; Music: William M. Runyan) 
 

For Further Review 

1.  Why were the sacrifices of Noah a soothing aroma to the LORD? What does this tell us about His nature?

2.  What does it mean to offer our bodies to God as a living sacrifice? Believer, have you remembered to do that today?

3.  Think about the lyrics to “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” How do these lyrics represent the truths of today’s passage?