Lessons from Exodus

LessonsFromExodus

God gives us so much in His Word! Salvation, teaching, edification, He gives it to us “for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3.16, 17).

I believe God gives us a picture of the story of His salvation in the book of Exodus. There are parallels and lessons to be drawn, important for us to know in our walk with Him. This is why the Exodus story is re-told throughout the Bible (Psalms, Acts, etc.): it’s important! God has a lesson for us, a message.

I’m pretty sure a whole book or books could be written on the subject, but here is a short list of lessons from Exodus:

    • God chose His people Israel. There was nothing in them that they did or performed or thought that made them special to God among other people. He simply chose them out of the world to symbolize His love and grace; and to be a light for Him in the world to others. Abraham was their father; Jacob (later named Israel) was the patriarch of the twelve tribes.

     

    • Egypt symbolizes sin / the life of sin / our darkness / death / that which is not of God.

     

    • God placed Joseph in Egypt before the family of Israel moved there; Joseph was there to save them. God already had a plan in place for His people.

     

    • Egypt looked pretty good to the Israelites when they first got there. It was a land of plenty (because God had placed Joseph there to provide). They were free to come and go and conduct their business. They were given a special place to call their own when they moved there, Goshen, separate from the Egyptians.

     

    • The Pharaoh who knew the Israelites died, and a new Pharaoh came in. Just like that, Satan and evil can change from looking good to showing his true colors.

     

    • The Egyptians slowly enslaved the Israelites. The Israelites could have moved away prior to their complete enslavement, but life was good, this was their home, and they stayed. They didn’t see what was coming. God gave us another picture of this in the Holocaust: people could not imagine the evil that was coming, this was their home, and they stayed.

     

    • Sin entices us to stay by looking good and/or comfortable. We are slaves to it by the time its true nature is revealed.

     

    • Pharaoh symbolizes worship of false gods. In Egypt, Pharaoh was considered a god. The people looked to him for sunshine or rain or providence, and believed he provided for them. The Israelites, while they lived in Egypt, were drawn to this false worship. They had the stories handed down to them of their fathers, of God and His provision and care; but after 400 years of living in Egypt and of being slaves, they were in complete bondage. Although they believed lies, they still knew the God of their fathers (the midwives feared God, in Exodus 1; in Exodus 2.23, “the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage,” the Word does not specifically say they cried out to God, but He heard them; at the Red sea, in Exodus 14.10, “the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD”).

     

    • God created Moses. Pharaoh’s daughter was kind, and took Moses in. Sometimes the world looks kind and takes care of us. We must see the world for what it is, and obey God in it.

     

    • God called His people out of Egypt. There was no way the Israelites could save themselves. God provided the only way out, and it was miraculous. No one else could have saved the Israelites. The Israelites were God’s chosen people.

     

    • Only the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of the Israelites saved the firstborn from death. Only the Blood of the Lamb, Jesus, saves us from death.

     

    • God made the Israelites a stench in the nostrils of the Egyptians. The Egyptians shoved the Israelites out, and gave the Israelites spoils to send them on their way. God’s people are often a stench in the nostrils of the world.

     

    • The Egyptians and Pharaoh wanted the Israelites back after they’d gone. Often, the Israelites wanted Egypt back after they’d gone (“And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt“). Both Egypt and Israel wanted life to go back to the way it was before. The Israelites were in bondage, but at least they knew what to expect in their everyday lives before God started interfering.

     

    • God led Israel out of Egypt in a miraculous way. It could only be via a miracle that they were saved. The Israelites had only to obey God, and follow Him, and He saved them. Even when they did not obey Him, He still saved them: they were His chosen people.

     

    • Moses was a man of God. He stood between God and His people as a beacon, a prayer warrior, a leader, an example, and a governor. God still uses His people in such ways.

     

    • God provided a pillar of light in the darkness and a pillar of cloud in the day, to guide and protect His people. He still provides His Light and Protection in our lives through His Word, and His presence in His Holy Spirit.

     

    • When Pharaoh chased after them with his army, God had His children in a spot where no visible way of escape presented itself. God protected His children with the pillar of fire; He also protected them by allowing no other way of escape. He needed them to know that HE was their salvation, He and no other. When the children of Israel thought there was no way, God made a way; a way no one could think of or invent. God is our only way of escape; we need to look to Him, not anywhere else or to ourselves.

     

    • After the Israelites crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, God allowed them to witness His destruction of Pharaoh and his army. After God saves us, He will allow us to witness His destruction of our enemy: sometimes in this world, but surely at the end of the world when Christ returns. (Note: God destroys the enemy; we have no power to do so.)

     

    • Even after miracles of God’s provision in the desert, the Israelites still complained and turned away from Him. They wanted to depend on other gods.

     

    • In our lives, we all have times in the desert: times of wandering, of wondering where God is, of doubting, of hardships and pain and terror.

     

    • While still in the desert (after He had called them out and saved them from death), God gave His children commandments, rules to follow, ways to behave, and strict mandates on how to worship Him. Why? Because they needed it! They had no idea of how to live righteously, how to live in a healthy manner, how to live in harmony with their brethren, or how to worship God (no idea of His holiness). If they didn’t have rules, they would make their own (as they often did, anyway), and disaster would follow. With rules and commandments, the Israelites had a blueprint, an outline of what a holy life looks like. They would know when they obeyed it, and they would know what disobedience looked like.

     

    • The Israelites feared greatly, and many of them never did depend on God. They said, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt?” Yes, for some, God did take them into the wilderness to die. Better for God’s people to die in the wilderness than to die in sin. When they refused to enter the Promised Land because of fear and doubt (and refusing to follow God), God put them back into the wilderness until that generation had died, and a new generation grew up in the fear of the Lord. God knows the end of our days, and how we will respond to Him. He knows when it is better that He take us out of the world.

     

    • God fed them every single day with manna. He always provided water, even in a dry and thirsty land. He still feeds us every single day, and provides Living Water.

     

    • After their wanderings, God led His people to the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. This is what a saved life looks like. This new generation was fit for the Lord’s work. They had been toughened in their wilderness journeys, they were brought up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord’s commands, they had not only heard the stories of God’s miracles from their parents, but had witnessed God’s miraculous provisions themselves, each day. Deuteronomy 29.2-6 And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, Ye have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land; The great temptations which thine eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles: Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day. And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot. Ye have not eaten bread, neither have ye drunk wine or strong drink: that ye might know that I am the LORD your God.

     

    • God’s children were not led to Canaan to sit back and receive everything. No; they had to fight battles, they had to defend against the enemy, they had to work to provide food, they had to be on the lookout always. They had to keep their eyes on God, and remember where they had been, and what God had done.

     

    • In the Promised Land, the Israelites had God’s testament and commands to follow. Moses had written everything down, had taught it to the people, and had taught it to Joshua. God’s people started out well. But, just as we all do, they fell away.

     

    • The Israelites devastated their Promised Land, just as we have devastated ours. No, not every single child of God forgot Him (God always has a remnant), but as a people, they turned away from Him and invented their own ways and glorified themselves.

     

    • And God judged them. Just as He judges us. He allows and intervenes and provides situations and circumstances and people so that we will look to Him, love Him, follow Him. He still calls to us.

Stumble and Pray

StumbleAndPray

James 3.2 For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, this one is a perfect man, able indeed to bridle the whole body.

Who among us has not stumbled? Where does that stumbling go afterward?

  • Crawling around, blind
  • Cursing our situation
  • Sitting and wailing and wallowing
  • Jumping up and running into more stumbling blocks
  • Realizing we are on our knees, and praying

If we reverse the order listed above, and first realize we are on our knees, and we pray, then all the other responses are moot.

Hosea 14.9 Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.

1 Peter 2.7, 8 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

There are many ways we stumble. We can trip ourselves in our own sin. We can walk in darkness and stumble over unseen obstacles. Others can trip us, even when we walk in the light.

Although they vary in some ways, stumbling is akin to tribulation. These will happen in our lives. God allows such things. Why? Because He loves us. This is how we learn, how we are disciplined to look up and look to our Savior.

Are you on the ground? Allow yourself to stay there and contemplate. Allow God’s Holy Spirit into your heart to search and try you.

Psalm 139.23, 24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 91.9-15 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.

The Fool, the Simple, and the Wise

TheFoolTheSimpleAndTheWise

A quick search for ‘the fool’ in my Bible tool quickly turns up 15 verses. There are no verses where God has anything good to say about a fool.

Psalms 14.1, The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. And exactly the same again in Psalms 53.1, The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: there is none that doeth good.

So first, we see that a fool believes there is no God. He makes himself his own god, and that will always lead to his downfall. With himself as god, he is corrupt, he commits abominations, and does no good.

Romans 1.21, 22 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

There seems to be some difference between a fool and the simple. The fool sets himself up as god; the simple is just stupid, following hither or thither, wherever he is led by another. To be simple is to lack wisdom, to lack understanding: Proverbs 7.7 (I) beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding.

The simple fall into trouble; the fool makes trouble: Proverbs 1.32 For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. Proverbs 14.15 The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.

But the Bible offers hope to the simple: Psalms 119.130 The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple. Psalms 19.7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

Wisdom calls to both the simple and the fool: Proverbs 8.5 O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.

A personal note: As a retired teacher of the mentally disabled, I will just say that anyone can be stupid. Stupid is not a matter of brain capacity, it is a matter of will and of temperament. Many of my severe/profound mentally impaired students had their wits about them and were productive contributors to our community. Other of my students were stupid, there was no getting around it.

Contrary to the famous quote by the character William Hundert in ‘The Emperor’s Club’ (“Youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated, and drunkenness sobered, but stupid lasts forever.”), God’s wisdom can change anyone.

So, we must be careful and consistent in proclaiming God’s wisdom. We do not know the hearts of those whom God has created, and it is not ours to judge as to whether anyone is wise, simple, or foolish. A Jesus noted, Matthew 5.22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, (empty, foolish. o empty one, i.e. thou worthless) shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, (dull or stupid, i.e. heedless, blockhead, absurd) shall be in danger of hell fire. And as the apostle Paul noted, Romans 1.15 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish.

We serve a great and mighty God, and He can change anyone’s heart: Hebrews 12.11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Pray to God, and ask Him to search your heart Psalms 139.23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts. Pray God to reveal and root out any errant foolish thoughts or simple ways; pray God for His wisdom: James 1.5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

The antidote to foolishness and simplicity: WISDOM!

Wisdom is a wonderful thing – you NEED wisdom!

Proverbs 4.7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

Proverbs 2.10-12 When wisdom entereth into thine heart, and knowledge is pleasant unto thy soul; Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee: To deliver thee from the way of the evil man, from the man that speaketh froward things.

Ecclesiastes 7.12,19 For wisdom is a defence, and money is a defence: but the excellency of knowledge is, that wisdom giveth life to them that have it…. Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city.

For further reading, I recommend Proverbs, Chapters 8 & 9

Other notes:

Proverbs 12.15 The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise.

Proverbs 10:21 The lips of the righteous feed many: but fools die for want of wisdom.

Proverbs 1.32 For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them.

Proverbs 12.1 Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.

Fool: stupid fellow, dullard, fool, morally bad, despising wisdom and discipline

  • Strong’s Hebrew: 3684. כְּסִיל (kesil), 70 Occurrences translated to English fool or stupid
  • Strong’s Hebrew: 5036. נָבָל (nabal), 18 Occurrences translated to English a fool, or foolish
  • Strong’s Greek: 878. ἄφρων (aphrón), 11 Occurrences translated English fool or foolish
  • Strong’s Greek: 3474. μωρός (móros), 12 Occurrences translated English fool or foolish
  • Strong’s Greek: 877. ἀφροσύνη (aphrosuné) 4 Occurrences translated English as foolishness

Simple: perhaps open-minded, open to wisdom or folly, believing every word, lacking, needing, tendency to bad sense, easily entice or misled

  • Strong’s Hebrew: 6612. פֶּ֫תִי (pthiy), 19 Occurrences translated to English simple or naïve

In Remembrance of Me

InRemembranceOfMe

Oh, how easily/quickly we forget! We are, indeed, frail children of dust. God designed and created us, and He knows we forget. We not only forget events in our own lives, we forget history, what God has done for us. This is why God, so many, many times throughout Scripture, adjures us to mark events, to write them down, to put up stones of remembrance, to celebrate days of remembrance. He is specific in His blessings to us; He desires that we be specific in our remembrance of His goodness.

I have a hard enough time remembering to bring my tote bags into the grocery store so I don’t have to use plastic bags. Even though I write things on the calendar, I forget to look at the calendar! My mind is growing ever more feeble. May I ever more strongly depend on my Lord to sustain me.

Checklist to remedy the situation:

  1. Read God’s Word daily. God’s Word is manna to us: it feeds us, strengthens us, fortifies us, enlightens us, directs us; and we need it every. single. day.
  2. Keep a journal. Set aside time each day to write down life events, God’s joys, heart songs, heart renderings.
    1. Look back at your writings from time to time. Pray God’s perspective, so you may see how He has been working in your life, and the lives of others.
  3. Keep another journal just for God’s Word. As you read Scripture and pray, write down what the Spirit tells you, personally.
  4. Communicate with family and God’s people. Share your joys and sorrows.
  5. Set times of family celebrations and memorials. When life events happen, make something of them. Look back at your old calendars and journals. Are you memorializing the important things? Are you passing them down to your children?
    1. I am seeing, more and more these days, minimalists (those who do not keep things for the sake of having them, whose homes contain only such items as are necessary for functions of living). I confess to being one of them. I have no interest in keeping objects from the old days, “treasures” my parents have collected, great-grandparents’ china. If you do, that’s okay: we’re all different. I insert this because I’m not talking about passing objects down through the generations, although that may happen. My point is that we make a way of remembering God’s interventions and goodness – some kind of celebration.
  6. Translate God’s memorials into your family / into your life. God instructed the Israelites to commemorate occasions for good purpose. As you read Scripture, be attuned to see if God is directing you in one way or another.
  7. Rejoice in the Lord daily! Find something to give cause for rejoicing. If life is miserable for a while, give thanks for God’s presence and for His ability to gift you with His perspective.

Following are a few passages in Scripture giving instruction to remember:

Exodus 12.14, 15 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the LORD throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever. Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel

Exodus 28.12 And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial.

Exodus 28.29 And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the LORD continually.

Leviticus 2.16 And the priest shall burn the memorial of it, part of the beaten corn thereof, and part of the oil thereof, with all the frankincense thereof: it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

Leviticus 23.24 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.

Leviticus 24.7 And thou shalt put pure frankincense upon each row, that it may be on the bread for a memorial, even an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

Joshua 1.8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

Joshua 4.5-7 And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.

Malachi 3.16 Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name

Luke 22.19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

John 14.26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

1 Cor 11.23-26 For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

One Year of Maggie’s Blog

Maggie One Year

Well! It’s been one year that I’ve been blogging! In honor of this auspicious occasion, I plan to re-post some of my past writings from the very beginning and up through a few. Here is my first post (and, I believe, my longest):

An Overview: One Approach to Reading the Bible

The Whole Bible:

God says, in 1 Corinthians 2.12-14: Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

So, when we read the Bible (God’s Word), we must understand that we cannot discern the meaning of God unless His Holy Spirit reveals it to us. Therefore, the first step in reading the Bible is to pray and ask God to show you what He wants you to understand. It’s like having the Holy Spirit at your shoulder, explaining to you what you read. The Bible is a book we can read at any stage of life, for any purpose. Even when we read the same passages again and again, they take on new meaning, along with the perspectives we morph into as we grow in God’s wisdom. And it’s still all true.

Keep in mind that God is giving us, in His Word, as clear an explanation as is possible for human minds to grasp, even with the Spirit’s guidance. His ways are not our ways. Isaiah 55.8, 9 says, For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. God is always right. If we have a disagreement with Him, we know Who is right, every time. If there’s something that doesn’t sit right with you, ask God about it. He longs to sit with you and reveal Himself. He already knows you intimately; He’d like this relationship to go both ways. God never forces Himself on us. But it pleases Him to no end when we seek Him out, when we mindfully sit with Him to commune (as Mary did in Luke 10). He loves it when we obey the promptings of His Spirit and take heed.

The Old Testament:

God gave us the whole Bible, and says of it in 2 Timothy 3.16, 17: All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

All Scripture includes the Old Testament, so that means the Old Testament is richly useful for us. Why is the Old Testament still relevant today? Because neither human nature nor God’s nature changes. He remains the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Humans will always have the same nature, and we will always need God.

The book of Genesis, all in one book, tells the story of

  • creation
  • God’s power and might and love
  • God’s desire for relationship with man
  • God’s pursuit of man in order to have that relationship
  • man’s inability to live a sinless life
  • man’s inability to seek a relationship with God (because man loves himself first)
  • man’s need for salvation
  • man’s need for God, and a relationship with Him
    • God created us. He knows the hairs on our heads. Before we were knit together in our mother’s womb, He knew us. He had a specific design in mind for each of His children. One part of that design is a desire for intimacy with our Creator. Man may try many and various ways and means to fill that need, that void, but the only thing that fits is God Himself.
    • 1 Chronicles 16.11: Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.
  • God’s promise to make a way for a holy God to have a relationship with sinful man
  • our unique make-up, the way God created us to long for relationship, to long for meaning, and the way He created us to find joy and peace and meaning
  • our inability to find joy or peace or meaning in our own efforts
  • God’s choices:
    • His chosen people, to show the world what a beautiful thing relationship and obedience to God can look like,
    • and those whom God does not choose – the evil ones who will end up in the pit of fire.

God so loved the world that He created man and woman in order to have a relationship and share His love. He created His beings with the ability to choose: love is not love, of course, if one is programmed for it and unable to choose love. He created angels with this ability, and some chose to be their own gods. He created man and woman (and all people who came after) with this ability, but, alas, none of the people were able to choose God in and of themselves (Psalm 14.1b – 3: They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. John 15.5: I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. And Romans 3.23: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God) While it’s easy to become huffy and counter with our own goodness, God shows us in the Garden of Eden that our goodness is not the same as His goodness. Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They chose for themselves the ability to make their own plumb lines. They chose to make themselves gods, instead of relying implicitly and completely on God. They willfully turned from obedience to God, and broke the total unity they had with Him. [Just to be clear, we cannot place all the blame for our fallen state upon Adam and Eve, since any of us would have done the same thing (see Psalm 14.1b-3, above). Even with God among us, even with abundant evidence of His goodness and presence and love, even with our created design of desiring Him, we still choose our own way.]

God is a holy god. He will not tolerate sin. He cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden. In His love, He did not allow them to eat of the Tree of Life, for eternity on man’s own terms would be intolerable.

Out of the world, God chose Abraham as the Father of His people. God’s Chosen. This is a picture of what a people look like when God chooses them and showers His blessings on them. He is clear that He is making a covenant with them: He has a plan for their lives, He created them for this plan, and they will find their greatest joy and peace and meaning if they follow this plan. He will bless those who obey Him. God cannot bless disobedience. Even as parents we understand discipline. We do not reward our children for disobedience; we understand what will be good for them, and we nurture them in that direction. We parent imperfectly, but God parents perfectly.

God desired to give all the people of the world a picture of what living with God looks like. Even the pagans understood the power of God and His protection of His people. (Ex, in Joshua 2.9 – 11, Rahab explains the terror all the people have. This is one example of many.) God chose the location of Israel for His people, not only because it was a land flowing with milk and honey, but because it was a crossroads of all civilizations, and His people would be able to spread God abroad from the comfort and safety of their own land.

The Temple in Jerusalem was a physical place where people could come together to worship God Almighty. Because they were human and finite, they needed something they could go to and look at and touch. God gave His people explicit instructions for the construction of the traveling temple (when Moses led the Israelites) and of Solomon’s temple. People needed to have a visual of the awe and majesty of God’s presence. This was just one way God could show us the discrepancy between His holy presence and our sinfulness, and show us our need for Him.

For a long time, Israel lived in abundance and obedience to God. Oftentimes they deviated and went their own way, and God would allow the consequences of their actions to fall on them; He would take away His protection. Then His people would remember Him and return to Him.

But again and again, the Israelites chose their own ways above God. Even though they knew Who God was, knew His power and His love and protection, man always chose evil, always chose to be their own gods (like Lucifer did). God always provided a remnant, though, people whose hearts were knit with God, like David, like the prophets. But the Israelites, God’s chosen people, had fleshly hearts, just like all people that God created.

Because God so loved the world, and because He always did want a relationship with us for eternity, He provided a way, since before the world began, to restore us to Himself permanently.

God represents Himself to us as Three in One. In the Old and New Testaments, God reveals Himself as Father, Son/Word/flesh, and Spirit. His presence as Father / Protector / Provider and Lover of our Souls is prevalent throughout the Old Testament. His presence as The Son / The Word / God Among Us / God in the Flesh is revealed when He sits to eat with Abraham, when He wrestles with Joshua, and other incidences as He manifests Himself in the flesh (foreshadowing His birth and life among the people in the New Testament). And His presence with us as Spirit is oft mentioned when His Spirit rested on David, Saul, the prophets, and others, as well as the Spirit that dwells in believers in the New Testament.

As God the Father, He sent His only Son, Jesus, to be the propitiation for our sins. Sin is what separates us from God, and He so desired one-ness with us that He paid for our sins with the blood of His Son. And, so that we were not left destitute without His personal presence, He sent His Spirit to live within us after Jesus went back to Heaven. This same Spirit comforts us, directs us, convicts us, and pleads before the Father for us.

The New Testament

The angels could not contain themselves. God’s plan for salvation was culminating in Bethlehem, and they rejoiced in praise.

The four Gospels relate the story of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. If you’re reading a Bible that provides cross-references, you can trace much of what is happening to Old Testament prophecies.

The Epistles are letters written by various disciples of Jesus, outlining what it means to be saved by grace, and how to walk in that grace; how to receive forgiveness, and how to give it; and how to walk with God and receive the joy that comes with His walk. It teaches us more about God’s love, and gives us a peek into Heaven. As believers, we are God’s chosen people. Again, cross-references trace back to Old Testament passages pointing the way.

*           *           *           *           *

In the Old Testament, God’s chosen people were the Israelites. His chosen location was Israel, and the temple in Jerusalem. Through the Israelites, the world learned about God – they were a living testament for Him; through the Israelites, God sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. In Acts, Jesus commanded us to go and tell the world about Him (Acts 1.8). Also in Acts, God sent His Spirit to live within us (Ch. 2). We are now the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3.16). We are fearfully and wonderfully made to His exact specifications.

*           *           *           *           *

The genius of God’s moral code is that everything He requires of us is for our own good. When we violate His code of life, we suffer harmful consequences. – Quiet Walk, May 1, 2015

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.    Hebrews 11.6

It’s not that God hates us when we disobey Him. It’s that He designed us to be in perfect peace when we walk in His ways; and He loves us so much that He wants us always to walk with Him and have that peace. We cannot walk with Him if we don’t know Him. One way to get to know Him better is to read His Word. Another is to commune with His Holy Spirit. Another is to listen to Godly preaching and teaching of His Word. And another is to congregate with His children, talk about Him, encourage one another.

Genesis Chapter 1

genesisch1*

Gen Ch 1 God’s name in Hebrew: Elohim, God of power, this noun is masculine and plural. Yes, plural. Note that it is paired with the singular of its corresponding verb. Hence, God/Plural/One.

Gen1.1 In the beginning… So there was a beginning. What was before that? God was before that, from forever.

  • English translation of the word (B’rêshîth) used for “beginning:” beginning, choice, choicest, finest, first, first fruits, foremost
  • Created (bara): create, shape, fashion, form
  • Heavens (shamayim): heaven, heaven and the highest, sky, visible heavens, abode of the stars
  • Earth (erets): whole earth (as opposed to part), whole earth (as opposed to heavens), ground, soil

Gen 1.2 Interesting that the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep. God started the earth with darkness, and then He moved. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. Although Jesus is the Living Water, He Who gives us sustenance; waters in the plural often denote troubles, flesh, tribulation (Lamentations 3.54, Jeremiah 47.2, Psalm 18, etc.). Apparently, the earth is covered with waters, since in verse 9 He gathers the waters together and lets the dry land appear. (Also, 2 Peter 3.5 But they deliberately overlook the fact that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water…)

Gen 1.3 In the first mention of God speaking, God creates by His Word. He speaks, and there is light. Of note: God is Light (1 John 1.5), and in Him is no darkness at all. Yet, in order for there to be any other type of light, God must create it (apart from God, there was no light). Are there differences in light/Light? John, in 1 John 1.5 is not speaking of the same light he got from a candle or lantern. It would be interesting to do a word and topical study on light.

Gen 1.4, 5 God declares the light is good. But He does not decide that light will replace the darkness. He separates light from darkness; darkness continues along with the light, and they are separated. God names Day and Night; henceforth come evening and morning, the first day

Gen 1.6, 7, 8 God creates a firmament (an expanse, a visible arch of the sky) in the midst of the waters, to divide the waters from the waters; waters above and waters under. He calls the firmament Heaven. That is the second day.

The third day:

  • Gen 1.9 – 13 God gathers together the waters under the heaven to let the dry land appear. The dry land He called Earth; the gathering of waters He called Seas.
  • God calls the earth to bring forth grass, herbs, fruit trees.
  • Verse 11 is the first mention of “seed:” so that each may produce according to its kind: His plan of propagation, the beginning of begetting.

The fourth day:

  • Gen 1.14 – 19 God called for lights in the firmament of the heaven. He had specific purposes:
    • To give light to the earth
    • A greater light to rule the day (sun)
    • A lesser light to rule the night (moon)
    • To divide the light from the darkness
    • He made the stars also
    • To give for signs and seasons, and days and years
  • Interesting that God creates grass, herbs, and fruit trees the day BEFORE he created the sun, moon, and stars.
  • He created the lights in the firmament of the heaven in order to divide the day from the night; yet, in verse 4, He divided the light from the darkness. Noted: light and darkness is not the same as day and night.

The fifth day:

  • Gen 1.20-23 Creation of water animals and fowl
  • God said to be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas and let fowl multiply in the earth.

The sixth day:

  • Gen 1.24 – 31 God creates living creatures on the earth.
  • He commands the earth to bring forth the living creature: cattle, and creeping thing and beast. Water animals and birds were created before land animals. As for the land animals, they were, from creation, either wild (beast) or livestock (cattle).
  • Gen 1.26 And then God says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”
    • Man & woman were created the same day as the land creatures, although after the land creatures; also the only creation made in His likeness. God gives man dominion over all the other living things He created. He gives man dominion over the earth, but not over the waters.
    • “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness:” a mention of God’s Trinity. John 1.1 states that Jesus was with God, and was God, from the beginning. Wisdom, in Proverbs 8, is depicted as being with God during Creation.
  • Gen 1.27
    • God created both man and woman in His image: “Man” is used to denote human; God differentiates man into male and female.
    • God is Spirit (Jn 4.24) and created man in His image; therefore, man has an immortal spirit. Man and woman are created in the image of God, equally. Equally in His likeness, equally loved, equally esteemed.
    • Seems a lot was packed into Day 6, and it is expanded in Chapter 2: how Adam and Eve were created; God’s command to Adam not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil; bringing all the beasts and fowl to Adam to name; Eve created from Adam’s rib.
  • Gen 1.28
    • God blessed them. God did not specifically bless any other of His creation, just man.
    • God speaks to them. He does not directly address any of His other creation.
    • “Be fruitful and multiply.” God created masses of every other living thing; but of man, He created only two. Because God is omniscient, He could see the coming of sin. In His wisdom, He created but two to be perfect, and then to be banished from the garden.
  • Gen 1.29, 30 God tells man that He has given them all herbs and trees, all which bears seed upon the face of all the earth, for them to eat; and for the beasts and fowl and all that creeps to eat. No mention of eating any flesh.
  • Gen 1.31 God sees all that He has made, and declares it to be very good. Light was good (v 4); dry land earth and gathering together of the waters was good (v 10); grasses, herbs, trees, fruit, seed were good (v 12); lights in the firmament were good (v18); water animals and fowl were good (v 21); everything that He had made was very good (v 31). Each of God’s creations were good; the interaction, dynamics, coordination of all together were very good.

 

* I like maps. Images from bibleatlas.org

Genesis Overview

This is an excerpt taken from my very first post, with some editing for this series.

The book of Genesis, all in one book, tells the story of

  • creation
  • God’s power and might and love
  • God’s desire for relationship with man
  • God’s pursuit of man in order to have that relationship
  • man’s inability to live a sinless life
  • man’s inability to seek a relationship with God (because man loves himself first)
  • man’s need for salvation
  • man’s need for God, and a relationship with Him
    • God created us. He knows the hairs on our heads. Before we were knit together in our mother’s womb, He knew us. He had a specific design in mind for each of His children. One part of that design is a desire for intimacy with their Creator. Man may try many and various ways and means to fill that need, that void, but the only thing that fits is God Himself.
    • 1 Chronicles 16.11: Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually.
  • God’s promise to make a way for a holy God to have a relationship with sinful man
  • our unique make-up, the way God created us to long for relationship, to long for meaning, and the way He created us to find joy and peace and meaning
  • our inability to find joy or peace or meaning in our own efforts
  • God’s choices:
    • His chosen people, to show the world what a beautiful thing relationship and obedience to God can look like,
    • and those whom God does not choose – the evil ones who will end up in the pit of fire.

God so loved the world that He created man and woman in order to have a relationship and share His love. He created His beings with the ability to choose: love is not love, of course, if one is programmed for it and unable to choose love. He created angels with this ability, and some chose to be their own gods. He created man and woman (and all people who came after) with this ability, but, alas, none of the people were able to choose God in and of themselves (Psalm 14.1b – 3: They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. John 15.5: I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. And Romans 3.23: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God) While it’s easy to become huffy and counter with our own goodness, God shows us in the Garden of Eden that our goodness is not the same as His goodness. Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They chose for themselves the ability to make their own plumb lines. They chose to make themselves gods, instead of relying implicitly and completely on God. They willfully turned from obedience to God, and broke the total unity they had with Him. [Just to be clear, we cannot place all the blame for our fallen state upon Adam and Eve, since any of us would have done the same thing (see Psalm 14.1b-3, above). Even with God among us, even with abundant evidence of His goodness and presence and love, even with our created design of desiring Him, we still choose our own way.]

God is a holy god. He will not tolerate sin. He cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden. In His love, He did not allow them to eat of the Tree of Life, for eternity on man’s own terms would be intolerable.

Out of the world, God chose Abraham as the Father of His people. God’s Chosen. This is a picture of what a people look like when God chooses them and showers His blessings on them. He is clear that He is making a covenant with them: He has a plan for their lives, He created them for this plan, and they will find their greatest joy and peace and meaning if they follow this plan. He will bless those who obey Him. God cannot bless disobedience. Even as parents we understand discipline. We do not reward our children for disobedience; we understand what will be good for them, and we nurture them in that direction. We parent imperfectly, but God parents perfectly.

In Genesis, God shows His love and paints a picture of His promise of salvation through the events of Noah (allowing a new beginning, with a picture that, no matter who we start with, man will always fall and God will always save His chosen), Abraham (blessing Abraham’s obedience and making him the father of the seed of salvation), Isaac (providing a wife through the actions of an obedient and faithful servant), Jacob (recognizing a heart devoted to Him, even through deception), and Joseph (showing that, even though God’s plan may look awry to us, He will protect and provide as we obey).

Homemade Timeline

adam to noah timeline

I am posting a series I started (privately) some time ago and never continued, titled “Revelations from Genesis.” As I read the book of Genesis, I am always amazed at how much there is in this book: God intimates why He created us, He gives us a peek at how mighty and awesome and majestic He really is, He shows us why we need salvation, He outlines and details His plan of salvation, He shows us why we can’t do it ourselves, He paints pictures of His love for us and our need for Him; and He presents a tailored plan on how He designed us to live – what’s most healthy and satisfying and joy-bringing.

I begin the series with a timeline I created. I like a good picture, and I couldn’t find one, so I made one. It is accurate, as far as I know how to make it. If anyone sees discrepancies, please let meknow.

Some items of note from this visual:

  • Because people lived so long, they really got to know their family groups: grandbabies and great-great nephews and nieces and sons and shirttail in-laws mingled with one another.  All the way up to Methuselah, ancestors could speak directly with Adam (and maybe Eve?) and hear what it was like in the Garden, to walk with God and be without sin.
  • It looks like maybe Methuselah and possibly Lamech died in the Flood. Noah was born 126 years after Adam died, and maybe born while Seth was still alive. These folks must have felt very related to each other. I don’t think they moved far away like we do now. There was interaction, and they knew their bloodlines. What did Noah think when God closed the door of the ark? Noah knew his relatives were still out there. But he had faith. Faith that God cared for each of them as much as He did for Noah himself, and that all lives were in His capable and loving hands.

Ruth’s Obedience

I listened to a sermon about Ruth yesterday. The pastor pointed out that Ruth gleaned from the fields of Boaz and that, even though Ruth was content with living off the “left-overs,” God had so much more for her; and, so much more for us.

Even though the pastor focused on Ruth’s kindness, I have always been drawn to the picture of obedience that Ruth paints. She did all that her mother-in-law, Naomi, directed her to do. The basis for her obedience seems to be her commitment to her mother-in-law (Ruth 1.16-18), which I believe was given to her from God.

It was Ruth’s initiative to glean from the fields, and she “happened” to choose the field of Boaz. Naomi was excited to learn (and recognized immediately that it was God’s Hand) that Boaz had shown kindness to Ruth, as Boaz was a near kinsman, able to redeem Ruth (and, by extension, Naomi). Boaz had, indeed, singled out Ruth to extend his kindness to protecting her, feeding her, and heaping upon her that for which she worked.

Note that Boaz, also, exhibited obedience to God in that he followed God’s ordinance to harvest his fields but leave what was left for the gleaners. If he had not been obedient, if he’d been one to hoard it all for himself, he would not have met Ruth.

The height of Ruth’s obedience came when Naomi directed her to, at night, find where Boaz was lying, uncover his feet, and lie there. What would happen next? Naomi told Ruth that he would tell her what to do. Ruth’s reply to her was simply, “All that thou sayest unto me I will do.”

In her shoes, I might have argued. Whaaat? Lie down next to a man I hardly know, and he will tell me what to do? What if he laughs at me? Scorns me? Ignores me? Throws me out? Gets embarrassed and asks me quietly to leave?

But Ruth obeyed. God blessed her obedience.

{God always blesses obedience.}

So I played, “What if…”

What if Ruth had not been so obedient? What if she decided she wasn’t worthy to try to grab the attention of such a distinguished and popularly honored fellow?

Don’t we all sometimes disobey because we think we’re not worth it? Because we’re less than others? That we don’t deserve such kind treatment? We haven’t earned the right for others to think highly of us?

That we don’t deserve to be loved like that.

God created us, and He decided that WE DESERVE TO BE LOVED LIKE THAT. That’s what He created us FOR!

Look at the blessings and honor He showered upon Ruth: She’s a direct kinsman to King David and to Jesus Christ Himself!

It is the epitome of egotism, pride and puffed-up self to think that our opinion of ourselves is more valid than God’s opinion of us.

Read in God’s Word what He thinks of you. (See my post, A Love Letter to You.) Act in obedience to Him. See what amazing blessings He desires to shower upon you, His beloved child.

Safe?

Can We Live in Safety? Can Our Kids / Grandkids?

The short answer is no. We cannot built a safe environment for ourselves, our kids, or our grandkids. We cannot control everything in our, and their, lives. We can try to keep the boogie man out; we can do everything in our power to keep them innocent and pure. BUT, evil lurks: sometimes it’s in other people, sometimes it’s within our kids / grandkids and the choices they make.

Our military stands at the ready to protect our country. The US is now creating a Space Force to protect us from warfare waged in space. Can we feel protected?

Hackers can break into our accounts. Thieves can break into our personal space. We set up guards. Can anti-virus and credit protection keep us safe?

All we can do is trust that the steps we have taken, and that our government have taken, are enough to keep us safe, right?

Of course it’s not enough.

So we’re left with the fact that God lets these awful things happen. Sudden illness; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; thievery; bullying. So much evil in this world, and we don’t like it.

What can we do?

We can live in peace. We have no need to live in fear for our lives, our kid’s lives, or our grandkids.

Why? How?

Even though this world is not a safe place, and we cannot promise safety to our kids, we can go about our lives in peace.

God’s got this. God’s got YOU, and your kids and grandkids. He is our loving, powerful, omniscient, omnipresent God. HE is in control.

Isaiah 41.10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. This tells me God is always with me, therefore, whatever happens, even if it’s scary, I need not fear. (Think of Jesus in the boat in the storm. The disciples were terrified for their lives, but Jesus knew God had them.)

Isaiah 41.13 For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. God’s got me. I’m safe with Him, even when my surroundings may not be safe.

Isaiah 43.1 But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. God created me for a purpose. He will keep me until that purpose is fulfilled, and then I get to go with Him.

Isaiah 43.5 Fear not: for I am with thee: I will bring thy seed (descendants) from the east, and gather thee from the west; God has a purpose for our kids and grandkids, too. He will keep and preserve them.

Matthew 10.28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. When our physical or emotional life is in danger, it’s hard to keep an eternal focus. Call on the Lord.

Lamentations 3.57 Thou drewest near in the day that I called upon thee: thou saidst, Fear not. When we call Him, He answers.

Psalm 4.8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety. We need not lay awake at night, worrying about our lives or the lives of others. If we can’t sleep, talk to God.

Romans 15.13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost. Not in our own power, but in the power of the Holy Spirit, can we fear not, and live in joy and peace.

I close with this passage, comforting words from God that are close to my heart:

Psalm 73.23-26 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.