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Sunday, December 28, 2008

(8) The End of the Beginning, Genesis 46-50

We have seen the beginnings. Throughout Genesis we have read about the perfect become imperfect due to man's ambitions, obsessions, unfaithfulness and pride. But through all of the shortcomings of man we also see that one thing hasn't changed from the beginning; God is faithful and His promises are always fulfilled. Sometimes they aren't done in our timing or our liking, i.e., Isaac didn't want to be sacrificed, Jacob didn't want to be picked, the whole lifespan of Josephs' younger years. But in the end, it all works out for the good for those who love Him. That is why Paul wrote a little passage in the book of Romans 2000 years later:
  • 28 and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and who have been called according to His purpose.

The question remains though, if He calls you will you answer like Abraham or run like Jacob?

Sunday, December 21, 2008

(7) To Forgive, Divine, Genesis 37-45

The rights of the first born included things like headship of the tribe or family and a double portion of the inheritance. But it was a common practice for a father to give that right to the firstborn of the wife he loved more. Joseph happened to be the former. His brothers resented that because Joseph was number 11 in line. But if you read about his brothers they forfeited their inheritance rights by their own actions. Reuben committed incest. Simeon and Levi committed murder. And in short, the rest plotted against Joseph which showed their hearts were not what God wanted to use. For the time being Joseph would be the deliverer of his people.

We also read that Jacob is the man of God who is ready to be used. The final sign of this was the changing of his name to Israel. The word "Israel" means "protected by God". This was a covenant. The name change is a permanent sign by God. Jacob will no longer try and make a deal with God. he knows he will be protected. There are no more ifs.

Joseph probably had the most to complain about more than any other character in the Bible, possibly enough to even be compared to Job. But he never lost his focus. He never lost his relationship with God. And that is odd knowing how wishy-washy his father was with the relationship with God. Somehow Jacob must have installed Abraham's and Isaac's beliefs on him. God never forgot about Joseph either. He made him prosper even in the "pit" of his life. If we hold on to this truth, Never will I leave you, then life can be what we want it to be. The problem is we don't acknowledge God in many situations except the hardships. He is knocking on the door but it is up to us to let him in.

After 22 years of separation and a lot of time to let his anger burn against his brothers, we never hear of such an emotion coming from Joseph. Even when he had the opportunity to get revenge, his compassion showed in the end. Many time we can't do that. His brothers tried to kill him and he forgave them. but we can't even forgive if someone says one harsh word that doesn't even mean anything in the end.
To forgive is divine, but it should also be human.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

(6) Wrestling With God, Genesis 25-34

The life of Jacob is probably misunderstood by most people. When we think of Jacob we remember the saying, "The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob". So we think Jacob was a man of God and lived his life according to God's Word. But did he? Let's examine periods of his life and make a conclusion.
  1. Born with a twin brother, but when Jacob came out he was grasping on to Esau's heel. This was a prophecy about how these two brother's would struggle with each other their whole lives. Even in the womb Jacob and Esau struggled with each other.
  2. Jacob's name means "deceiver". What a horrible name to give to your child, but apparently it will fit his life very well.
  3. When the boys were becoming of age, Esau came in to get food since he was hungry from his work. Jacob deceived his brother into forfeiting his birth rite. And when it came time to get his inheritance he deceived his own blind father by pretending to be Esau. Would a man of God use deceit like this just for an inheritance?
  4. When Jacob went to go work for his uncle and to find a wife he tried to deceived his uncle as well. It failed this time but he still tried to use his skill as a liar.

There are other passages that can be used to see the true character of Jacob, but when it comes down to it, Jacob had no idea who God really was. Jacob was a man who knew what he wanted, but it was not God. God uses him however to start the nation of Israel.

When Jacob meets his wives he is well into his 70's. He agrees to work for her love for 7 years but is tricked by his uncle into working 7 more. By this time he is an older man but God still had not unleashed His plan completely to Jacob. Sometime God does not move because it is not the right time yet. Or it is because we have chosen to move in another direction away from God. Jacob was good at fleeing. He fled Esau after tricking him. He fled his uncle after obtaining his wives. But most of his life he fled from God. Each time he fled he needed to reconcile with the one he fled from. But to reconcile a man so stubborn, a man needs to be broken.

When we read the story about Jacob wrestling with God it's hard to understand why God couldn't overpower him. This is a translation problem. When we read this we are probably thinking more on the lines of physically overpowering him. But, it is probably more on the lines of breaking Jacob's stubborn will. We know Jacob now as being bull-headed, deceiving, and out-spoken. Apparently he had not learned that God should be in control. So God gave him something to remind him for the rest of his life, a torn hip socket. God will get through to us one way or another. The question is will we let Him do it the easy way or the hard way?

Often in life we think that our struggle is with a situation or another person when it is ultimately with God. The only time our struggles end is when we completely surrender to God. Jacob's name was changed to Israel, which means protected by God. Jacob should no longer live like a man of deception but live like a man who is protected by God.

It took him his whole life but when he finally recognized his struggle was with God, he changed. The promise of Israel and a Messiah was now finally ready to move ahead. Great things can happen when we let God do what He can do without our stubbornness getting in the way.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

(5) A State of Confusion, Genesis 11:1-32

After Noah was chosen to recreate civilization with a second chance one would think that humans would remember what the wrath of God meant if you did not follow His instructions. But unfortunately for the human race stupidity comes naturally and we still follow our own desires. The 11th chapter of Genesis is another lesson on human stupidity. The true meaning behind this lesson is how God told man not to settle into one place. If you read chapter 9 you will see that God gave strict orders of how man was supposed to fill the earth. Staying in one place was no a choice. But man took it anyway.
  • 1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.
  • 2 As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
  • 3 They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.
  • 4 Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
  • 5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building.
  • 6 The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.
  • 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other."
  • 8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.
  • 9 That is why it was called Babel —because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

Man did not listen to the instruction of God so He confused our languages. If you read into it, not only did He confuse our language, He scattered the human race Himself. How did man get everywhere even on remote islands and three major landmasses? God did it. Not evolution. This passage tells us of the original sin of Adam and Eve, following our own desires, trying to become like God. Remember that is how the serpent tricked Adam and Eve. He said they would be like God. Here we have the same sin, and the same penalty---separation. This time from each other.

In this short lesson we actually learn even more about ourselves. Over the thousands of years that have passed since this event, many false interpretations have come out of it. Here are two of them:

  1. Since Ham was cursed and his descendants became the African races and the Bible says they would become slaves to their brothers then it gives the "Europeans" the right to own slaves
  2. Since God separated the "races" here that means He didn't want any intermixing of races.

These two misinterpretations are the main reasons why we racism today. Unfortunately we are taught, programmed and/or raised with some of these feelings. Slavery is not an institution created nor condoned by God. Racism is a form of murder. If this is not believable then you need to read Matthew 5:21-26. Murder is any feeling of hatred towards your brother. The other misconception about interracial couples starts off false because it is not about race. It is about language. The only thing God says not intermarry with is another religion! Plus different languages does not mean a different race. If that was true then German is a race. English is a race. French is a race. Or Swahili is a race. Bantu is a race. White is NOT a race. Black is NOT a race. Only different amounts of melanin. If this was the true case then anyone of German decent marrying anyone of English decent must be committing sins. No. Human stupidity.

Friday, October 24, 2008

(4) The Tidal Wave, Genesis 5:6-10:32

Genesis 5:6-10:32
Some say that they flood mentioned in the Bible was just a local flood. Even some Christians believe this. Let's see what the Bible has to say about it.
Gen 6:11-19
  • 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.
  • 12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.
  • 13 And God said to Noah, "I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
  • 17 For behold, I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth to destroy all flesh in which is the breath of life under heaven. Everything that is on the earth shall die.
  • 18 But I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.
  • 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female.
Five times in this passage we see that the words "all" or "every" or "everything" is used. These words mean "complete". When the Bible says that all flesh was corrupted, all flesh will be destroyed it didn't mean that somewhere on the earth some will be okay. Noah was saved due to his righteousness. Some animals he was to take on the ark for food and sacrifice and so that the human race could go on living after the flood was over. How could it have been a local flood if all flesh died in the flood?
  • 19 And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female.
  • 20 Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive.
  • 21 Also take with you every sort of food that is eaten, and store it up. It shall serve as food for you and for them."
All kinds of animals were taken into the ark. Not one species was left behind. All were taken. If the flood was local why would all animals have to be brought to the ark to be saved? Why was every sort of food taken if all they had to do was wait until the waters subsided and then go get more like after floods here in the US?
  • 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood. Make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.
  • 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark 300 cubits, its breadth 50 cubits, and its height 30 cubits.
  • 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above, and set the door of the ark in its side. Make it with lower, second, and third decks.
Why make Noah build an ark so large and make him work so much for a local flood? Why not just tell him to move to a different land like he did with Abraham?
Gen 7:17-20 (The Message)
  • 17 The flood continued forty days and the waters rose and lifted the ship high over the Earth.
  • 18 The waters kept rising, the flood deepened on the Earth, the ship floated on the surface.
  • 19 The flood got worse until all the highest mountains were covered
  • 20 The high-water mark reached twenty feet above the crest of the mountains.
Where did the waters stop? If it was a local flood then how would it go 20 feet over the highest mountain? Wouldn't the waters flow over the top and go somewhere else? It did. It kept going until there was no more places to go; a global flood.  If it was a local flood then why did God tell the people to disperse and leave the area?  People would have already been around the world if it was only a local flood.  Scripture says this is where the languages were divided.  What language did these other people have that were not in the flood, if it was only a local flood?  If it was only a local flood, why does almost every culture have a version of the story.  If their culture was not part of it, then why would they make a story about it?  It had to be global.  Noah's family told the next few generations about it.  When the languages were divided, the story became diluted and distorted.

To say that this was a local flood wipes out the reason of Noah's life and story. Without this total destruction of a people who disregarded God then there would be no such thing as repentance. There would be no such thing as total grace. The Bible speaks of new creation, not something added on. You are the new creation. You need to be completely washed in the grace of God, not just part of you. This was a huge tidal wave.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

(3) Lost in Paradise, Genesis 3:1-5:5

Genesis 3:1-5:5

We (Adam and all of mankind, since we are one) had Paradise in the palm of our hands. We were supposed to live forever. We were supposed to be in a world protected by God and walk with Him all of our days but we couldn't do it. But, we had to eat from the wrong Tree.
  • 1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?"
  • 2 And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,
  • 3 but God said 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'"
  • 4 But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.
  • 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
  • 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
  • 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
The first sin was not the fact that Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. The first sin dealt with our own desires. If we follow our own desires that means we have disobedience of God's Word. Disobedience causes guilt. When we feel guilt we tend to do irrational things. Disobedience separates us from God.
Adam irrationally tried to cover his sin and shame. We know that only God can do that. Notice when God did the covering, He used animal skin not fig leaves. Animal skin lasts. It can be washed. It can stand the test of time way longer than a leaf. This action shows us how our ways are always worse than His ways. This also is a foreshadowing of the shedding of blood for the covering of sin, because an animal had to be sacrificed in Eden and give it's life for us so we can be covered. Wouldn't it be amazing if the skin that covered Adam and Eve was lamb?
Because of this we are separated from God. We are now in need of some factor that will bring us back to Paradise. There needs to be another Lamb to cover our sin and shame.
Man's walk with God was no longer side by side. We now have to walk on our knees. Our walk with each other now is strained. The perfect union of man and wife is now a life journey of trying not to hurt each other. The Tree of Life was taken away from us. We now die. We now rot. We now toil; sweat, blood, and tears. Instead of living forever we now have to reproduce to keep on living. We pass down traits of ourselves and since we are imperfect beings we pass down our imperfection as well. Cain killed Abel in the next generation. Cain also tried to cover his sin. This time by denial. But we know God is all-knowing. Cain's denial was needed because he didn't want to blame himself for his own destruction. Like us, he blamed God for the scenario of his life.
One sin leads to another, leading to another, leading to another. Our desire breeds in our minds. It gives birth to sin and sin brings death. We have a natural desire in us. It's not wrong to have desires. The problem is we let it breed. We need to bring every thought into captivity under the obedience of Christ.
There is only one way to get all of what we lost back...Jesus Christ.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

(2) Six Days, Genesis 1:1-31

Genesis 1:1-31
Some people say that the earth and the universe are billions of years old. And on the other hand you have those who think the world is only 6000 years old. Let's take a look at what the Bible says on the subject.
  • 1 In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth.
  • 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
  • 3 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light.
  • 4 God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
  • 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.
The first argument will come over the word "day". First of all, a suggestion; do not use the Greek language to decipher the OT. It was not originally in Greek. The original version is closer to Hebrew. The Hebrew word for day is "yom". Now day has a couple of meanings. It could mean: "back in my day", "24 hour period", or "daytime- when light is hitting the earth". Notice that verse 5 starts the problem. It has the word day in it twice and it is used as two of the meanings listed. But since this word has more than one meaning, there are those who will say that the second time day is used could mean an "indefinite time period". Hence this is where billions of years comes in. Christians who try and rationalize billions of years will bring in the scripture verses of Psalms 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8. Both of these scriptures link a thousand years to God is like a day. That would be an incorrect interpretation of these verses. Both passages here talk about how God has been around forever. These verses mean that time is not important to God. He is beyond all measures of time. Day one had one part daylight and one part night. If this was supposed to be billions of years then that was one long day.
Another argument will be about light. Some stars are billions of light years away from us. So, in order for us to be able to see their light then the universe has to be billions of years old for it would take that long for their light to travel. The natural law of physics would not allow this to be any other way. True. But God created the laws of physics. God is not part of the natural world. God set things into motion and to do that He created this in state of maturity. Adam was not a baby when he was created. Light was the first thing after the universe that was created. It was in its maturity. Let there be light and BOOM there was light, everywhere. They do have a neat theory. It is called doubling time theory. With the expansion of the universe happening in their eyes, every time the universe doubles in size, time is cut in half. Given the rate of the speed of light and the calculations of how big they say the universe is one can use the following to decipher how old they say the universe is:
  • day one took 8 billion years
  • day two took 4 billion
  • day three took 2 billion
  • day four took 1 billion
  • day five took 500 million
  • day six took 250 million
  • and the Christian scientists claims we are still in day seven
Add these together and you get 15 3/4 billion years.
www.aish.com/societywork/sciencenature/Age_of_the_Universe.asp will give you more information on this theory. It is neat but doesn't hold all the water.
Science tells us that the sun had appeared by an explosion of gas and bits and pieces were thrown into our solar system. When these pieces cooled you have some planets forming. Same with the moon. Earth started to cool and a piece of earth had broken off and cooled 300,000 miles away in the form of our moon. So science tells us the order of these things coming into existence as: Stars, Sun, Earth, Moon. But scripture tells us that the earth came first. Then the light. Then the sun and moon and stars. The earth is the oldest but not billions of years old. So, if some of these stars we could not see until today because they are 15 billion light years away, and the stars were not created until the 4th day then by their own theory the stars could only be 3 billion years old at the most. Thereby if you stick to the doubling theory then the earth is either 60 billion years old or the stars are a lot closer than they thought. Or the Bible is inaccurate about which came first. In any way, their theory now has holes in it or the Bible does.

To get the final picture you have to go back to the way Genesis was written. Remember from Lesson A, Genesis was written so we could understand it. Six days is six days.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

(1) Book of Genesis

The first book of the Bible, literally means "beginnings". When you start to read Genesis it may get confusing because of the way some of the stories intertwine. It seems like the timeline is disrupted and it will not make sense. Some say that the book was written as a form of poetry and that is why the flow is the way it is. Some say it was written in an analogical way and not everything can be interpreted the way it is written. To understand how Genesis is written you have to go back to what it means; beginnings. Genesis is about the beginning of everything. It is separated into many sections that deal with beginnings of many subjects. The following is break down of what it is all about.
  • Genesis 1:1-2:3, the beginnings of the universe. It takes us back in time before man existed. It tells us how the universe was created and the beginning of life on earth.
  • Genesis 2:4-25, the beginning of mankind. These passages lets us know how man and woman came into existence. This is why some of it is repeated from the 1st chapter. It is a different creation. It takes part of the creation of the universe and explains it in deeper detail.
  • Genesis 3:1-5:5, the beginnings of sinful nature. These chapters explain to us how man lost Paradise and his place with God. It shows the need of a bridge to get back to Him.
  • Genesis 5:6-10:32, the new beginning. Man was so corrupted that God in His mercy decides to give man a new beginning. He does not give a new creation, just a new beginning.
  • Genesis 11:1-11:32, the beginning of cultural differences and languages. It shows why languages are different.
  • Genesis 12:1-15:21, the beginning of God's people. These chapters describe why God chose the Hebrew race as His chosen people. It also shows the Promise of man's redemption.
  • Genesis 16:1-21:34, the beginning of the Covenant. Abraham is given a covenant to show the Promise will be fulfilled.
  • Genesis 22:1-25:18, the beginning of true faith. The story continues to show us what true faith is all about.
  • Genesis 25:19-39:23, the beginning of Israel. A novel about one man's struggles and how he overcomes his own insecurities to become the nation of Israel.
  • Genesis 40:1-45:28, the beginning of captivity. Israel will be a captive in Egypt. This outlines how they needed to have an Exodus and the break away from captivity.
  • Genesis 46:1-50:23, the end of the beginning. From here on out we will read what happened to the nation of Israel, it's struggles, it's triumphs, it's legacy, it's Son.
Don't get bogged down with the style more than what is being spoken to you. It is not written to confuse man. It is written from man's perspective so we can understand why we are the way we are. It should be taken as literal as possible except when the words "like" or "as" or any other words are used with the scripture.

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