Archive for April, 2011

Job 2

Job 2 moves further in the battle between good and evil that is played out in Job’s life.  Satan comes to God again and as he does, God holds Job up as one who is walking firmly with Him.  “Have you considered my servant Job”?  Same words we heard in the first round in chapter one.  God calls out Job as a man who is walking “blameless and upright…who fears God”.  Job is a good man living God’s way.  Satan challenges God around the reason why Job is living the way he is – because God has protected him from being personally afflicted.  Sure he has lost all his children and possessions Satan says, but you didn’t let me touch him directly.  So Satan asks for another shot at Job.

All that a man has he will give for his life…. stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face”.  God give Satan the green light to try again to drive a wedge between Himself and Job.  “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life”.  The power of evil doesn’t give up – if he fails in his last attempt – he has plenty more up his sleeve.  Satan never loses sight of his goal to kill, steal and destroy us.  We must not lose sight of that.  We are in a spiritual battle and caught in the middle.  We are the battleground.

Satan comes against job and inflicts him with “loathsome sores”.  He is covered head to foot and is more than miserable.  At this point his wife has had enough and asks “Do you still hold fast your integrity”?  It was a short discussion with a one word answer – yes.  Job chastises her as a foolish woman and remains true to God.  “In all this Job did not sin with his lips”.  Job knows that God did not cause his suffering.  There is a big distinction between being the cause, and allowing it to happen.  We tend to blame God as the reason for the bad things than happen.  God doesn’t make them happen.  Satan is the author of evil.

Three of Job’s friends hear of the situation and they came to him.  Good lesson here – when friends are hurting – we need to respond.  Often we fail to do so because we don’t know what to say or do.  Here are some great ideas from Job’s three friends of how to react when a friend is suffering:

  • raised their voices
  • wept
  • tore their robes
  • sprinkled dust on their heads
  • sat with him on the ground seven days and seven nights
  • no one spoke a word to him
  • saw that his suffering was very great

Bottom line is that they dropped what they were doing and they went to be with Job.  They didn’t say a word for 7 days.  They were with him – sitting in the dirt – being part of what he was going through.  That is the kind of empathy we are called to do.  We need to minister to folks where they are!

Job 1

Job 1 begins the story of the man from the land of Uz named Job.  The story begins by describing him as “blameless and upright…..feared God and turned away from evil”.  How’s that for a calling card?  Job is walking with God.  He is living life large for the Father.  He is also very blessed – 10 kids, lots of property – he is described as “the greatest of all the people of the east”.  Never think that walking with God means you live as a pauper in poverty.  It also doesn’t guarantee you’ll be wealthy like Job – but it doesn’t preclude you from wealth either. 

The reality is that Job worked hard to stay close to God.  His kids weren’t necessarily following in his footsteps of obedience.  So “he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all”.  He made it his business to do all he could to stay close to God and intercede on behalf of his kids.  Now there’s an example – how much are you praying and interceding for your children?  Do you do it regularly?  Job wasn’t sure they even needed it – but he was being proactive and praying for them just in case.  “It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts”.  I love his passion to pray for them.  But the key words here: “Thus Job did continually”.  Not sporadically.  Not occasionally.  Not when he remembered.  Not when he had time.  Job did it continually. He made it a priority.  He was faithful to pray for his kids!

Things are quite good for Job when Satan shows up.  If you wonder what the enemy is up to we are told he was “going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it’.  Satan is not locked up and kept in a confined space.  He is out and about looking for ways to mess up life. Remember that scripture tells us he is out to kill, steal and destroy.  And that is his plan for Job.  God begins a discussion with Satan and mentions Job this way: “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth”.  Why does God say this?  He is bragging about Job and his obedience.  Job is the example.  Satan says that Job is obedient because God has protected him: “Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side”.  He is chiding God that Job is only the way he is because God has showed him favoritism and taking good care of him.  God then allows Satan access to Job: “Only against him do not stretch out your hand”.  Truth is that Satan can’t touch us unless God allows.  He has no power of God.  So why would God allow it?  Other places in scripture tell us that it is through testing our faith that we go deeper.  It builds our character.  I won’t claim to understand the why – but I do know that without God’s permission it would not have happened.

Satan does do his mission for Job – he kills, steals and destroys most of what Job had.  Bad news after bad news came to him until his family and most of his possessions were gone.  He had lost most everything he had.  So what was his response?  “Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped”.  Job mourned, but he ended in worship.  He went to God with his pain and his praise.  Job has just lost most all he had and he is still worshipping.  The summary: “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong”.   Job knows that God did not do it to him.  He doesn’t blame God.  He worships.  A hard but important lesson for all of us to consider.  When things go wrong – we need to run to God with praise, not blame.

Genesis 11

Genesis 11 gives us the story of diversity.  After Noah and his sons got off the ark and repopulated the earth – scripture tells us “Now the whole earth had one language and the same words”.  Things were common – they came from the ark and their offspring all were from the same background.  “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do”.  It was a pretty closed circle.  Quite a difference from the world we live in today, isn’t it.  There was no diversity.  They were all of the same fabric. 

They begin to think that things are going pretty well and then they utter these words: “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth”.  Remember that God has told Noah and the boys to go and fill the earth – to multiply and make things happen.  But there appears to be a shifting away from God’s plan – the people begin to put their trust in themselves and to become focused on what they could do.  In fact – they are building their own little kingdom with a tower that reaches to heaven.  Why?  Was it to worship God?  Nope – they missed the mark on that and want to make a name for themselves.  They want to take God’s glory and make it their own.  The focus had changed from obedience to God to pride and attention to self. 

Even though they began to drift off course – we learn from scripture there is much power in a group that is common minded and focused.  “And nothing they propose to do will now be impossible for them”.  They are focused, working together, creating their dream.  The problem is they forgot God.  They were doing things their way in their power for their own glory.  It was not about God – in fact He is nowhere mentioned by them at all.  So as is often the case when we take things into our own hands and do it our way – God has a way of getting our attention and making us focused again.  In this case “the Lord confused the language of all the earth”.  The Tower of Babel became remembered as the place where language was confused and the people were dispersed.  That day people were separated because they had failed to keep their priorities in line. 

The balance of the chapter gives us the lineage of Shem – one of Noah’s sons.  And in that line comes Abram, whom we will later know as Abraham.  We learn of his wife Sarai (or Sarah).  Abram’s father Terah took his family and moved from Ur to go to the land of Canaan.  They didn’t quite make it that far and settled in Haran.  Shem lived 600 years and by the time we are a few generations down the line at Terah – we find that he lived 205 years.  Things are starting to change.  Scripture doesn’t explain why the lifespans are getting shorter here – but they definitely are.  We just need to keep in mind that the line of Abram comes through Shem.  That becomes more important later on our journey through the Old Testament.

Genesis 10

Genesis 10 gives us a list of the offspring of Noah and his three sons – Shem, Ham and Japeth.   The lists are long and the generations begin with the names in this list.  As we move through the list – there is a pause that is different: “Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord”.  We don’t know much about Nimrod – he is only mentioned here and in 1 Chronicles 1. The name Nimrod means “he rebelled” which likely captures what Nimrod became.   We learn from commentaries and other reference materials that Nimrod was not a mighty good man – he was a mighty bad man.  He took a very bad turn and was a man full of sin and bad actions. 

These sons of Noah and their offspring founded many of the towns we read about throughout scripture – Nineveh where Jonah has his story told, Sodom, Gomorrah and a host of others.  There were many peoples that result as the generations continue to grow and expand – “the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites,  the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, 18 the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites” – the boys obviously took the command to be fruitful and multiply to heart.  They expanded all over and created “clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations”.  What a difference a few generations can make.

Some of the families moved coastland, others to the hill country.  They spread themselves out and multiplied.  We need to consider the impact of multiplication from the point of Noah and his sons.  They were all that were left after the flood.  From those few the world has become populated through multiplication.  That same principle works for spiritual multiplication as well.  If we just multiple as Christ Followers – we can quickly change the impact of our Lord on this planet.  Other religious groups have figured that out and are making significant inroads in certain areas of the world.  All the while, we are failing to grow other Christ Followers and multiply our faith.  Are you sharing Jesus?  Are you focused on multiplying your faith?

Genesis 9

Genesis 9 begins with these words: “God blessed Noah and his sons”. These guys have just come off the ark with all the animals they have cared for the past year.  Now they have one task – “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth”.  What a job, eh?  Noah and his sons are large and in charge on earth.  There was no one else except God.  God goes on further and says this: “I give you everything”.  God has full trust in Noah and his boys.  Why?  Because they have been obedient.  They have walked with God.  The power of the blessing of God is so important to try and understand.  God wants to bless us.  Who gets blessed?  Those who walk in obedience to God will be blessed.

But God goes further and makes a covenant with Noah and his sons.  “I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you….never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth”.  God promises never to wipe out the earth again.  The power of a covenant is really important to grasp.  A covenant does not change – it does not end – and it is the boundary by which actions are bound.  Why is it we struggle to keep covenants in our society today?  That is particularly true of the marriage covenant – another very important covenant that God created in the Garden between Adam and Eve.  We seem to lose the reality that when we walk down the aisle and say I do – we are creating a covenant with our spouse before God and all in attendance.  It is a lifefime covenant.

God goes even further and tells Noah that He is giving a reminder and sign that the covenant exists.  We call it a rainbow and God shows it often to us in the skies after it rains or a storm passes.  “This is the sign of the covenant….my bow in the cloud”.   There is a sign that God still uses to remind us of the covenant He made with Noah.  It is a great reminder that covenants don’t come and go – they are forever.  God didn’t promise not to destroy the earth for a while – it was forever.  We use a sign of covenant in marriage as well – the ring – which we place on the finger of the one we are marrying to serve as a sign of our covenant.  The problem is that we are quick to remove the ring and ultimately the reminder of the sign of our covenant.  Right?

Noah and his boys got to work filling the earth.  Noah plants a vineyard and can’t handle the wine – ending up naked on the ground.  We have to remember that this was the first time Noah had ever experienced the fruit of his efforts so commentaries indicate that his drinking was not to get drunk, but more likely an accident.  The boys try and deal with his nakedness – the younger announcing it – the older two carefully covering him.  Noah is given the ability to know what happened and curses his youngest son Ham.  Poor judgment that has a long term consequence.  Noah lived another 350 years after the flood – dying at 950.  What a life he led.  He experienced much – and was right in the middle of God’s plan – because he was obedient and walked with the Lord.  We can learn much from Noah here!

Genesis 8

Genesis 8 has Noah and family on the ark.  They have experienced 40 days of rain, and were locked up with the animals and birds they had loaded up before the floods.  Then scripture tells us “God remembered Noah”.  That is pretty important – they had to wondering about the food and feed supply.  God caused the wind to blow and the water began to subside.  “At the end of 150 days the waters had abated”.  That doesn’t mean that the ground was dry – just that it had began to go down.   I found the following excerpt from The Adam Clarke Commentary very insightful….. 

From this it appears that Noah was in the ark a complete solar year, or three hundred and sixty-five days; for he entered the ark the 17th day of the second month, in the six hundredth year of his life, (Genesis 7:11,13), and continued in it till the 27th day of the second month, in the six hundredth and first year of his life. The months of the ancient Hebrews were lunar; the first six consisted of thirty days each, the latter six of twenty-nine; the whole twelve months making three hundred and fifty-four days: add to this eleven days, (for though he entered the ark the preceding year on the seventeenth day of the second month, he did not come out till the twenty-seventh of the same month in the following year,) which make exactly three hundred and sixty-five days, the period of a complete solar revolution; the odd hours and minutes, as being fractions of time, noncomputed, though very likely all included in the account. This year, according to the Hebrew computation, was the one thousand six hundred and fifty-seventh year from the creation.

God had the details worked out exactly so.  Noah sends out a raven and a dove to test the waters so to say – and see if it was time to get off the boat.  They came back empty the first couple times, but soon enough the dove would carry back a branch and after waiting a bit longer – Noah and all exit.  God’s direction – much the same as it had been for Adam and Eve – “be fruitful and multiply on the earth”.  We are in rebuilding mode – everything has perished except for those animals and Noah’s family on the boat. 

So what does Noah do?  “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord”.  Noah gets his priorities straight.  He worships.  He puts God where He belongs – first above all else.  God’s response is very positive as He promises “I will never again curse the ground because of man…..while the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease”.   God is clear that this is a one time deal – no more destruction of all that is on the earth.  He promises a consistent and dependable earth.  Noah caused God to smile on mankind once again.  He was pleased with the restart.  Are you living a life pleasing to God?  That is an important task for all of us to seek!

Genesis 7

Genesis 7 is a significant chapter in history as God wipes out His creation.  “Every living thing that I have made I will blot out”.  God was not splitting hairs on whether people were close to righteous or not.  There was no fence straddling on who was good.  Noah, his sons and their wives were it.  Everything else is going to perish.  Noah built the ark on dry ground in a land that had never seen rain fall before.  Now – it was showtime.  God says “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation”.  We commonly think that he took a pair of every kind of animal and bird when in fact we learn that he took seven pairs of each – not just a single pair.  That had to be one very full boat. 

We also don’t consider the reality that Noah was 500 when he had his son Seth, and now is a bit over 600 when the ark is complete and the floods come.  “Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came upon the earth”.  Obviously we can’t comprehend being anywhere close to that old, but Noah “did all that the Lord had commanded him”.  He was faithful for a very long time.  And how he has loaded up his family and the animals just as God commanded.  Then “all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell”.  Water came from below and above and soon had covered the mountains and the entire earth at least 15 cubits deep. 

Noah “went in as God had commanded him. And the Lord shut him in”.  Can you imagine being locked in the ark with a boat load of animals and no real idea of what was to come?  It rained for 40 days and 40 nights – which would have been a long time in itself – but “the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days”.  That is over 6 months to be on a boat.  This was no little project.  Noah and sons had to have enough feed and food to last for 6 months.  Wow – what a plan that had to have required.  The secret to this – obedience.  God directed – Noah listened and obeyed.  Exactly as he was instructed.  And God rebuilt mankind through Noah and his family.  He repopulated the earth from the ark.  Never think that the obedience of one man doesn’t count.  In God’s economy – it can be the most important thing.  Are you walking with Him in total obedience?  Who knows what that kind of life may mean!

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