Archive for May, 2014

Genesis 11

Genesis 11 continues the genealogy coming off the ark.  The people were all speaking one language.  “Now the whole earth had one language and the same words”.  God isn’t sure that is a good plan, as they were beginning to resemble the old ways and becoming confident in themselves.  They built a city and a tower with its top in the heavens.  They were creeping closer and closer to the old sinful ways that had caused God to destroy the earth in the first place.

So God says “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do”.  He decides to confuse their language so they couldn’t understand each other any longer.  That would prevent them from believing they could become like God. So the people are confused with different languages.  And God changes things.  “Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth”.

And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth”.  So God not only confuses their language, they are also dispersed around the globe.  And they continued to populate the earth and have sons and daughters that were doing the same.  They were living between 400-500 years now, and we come to the chronology of Terah who when he “had lived 70 years, he fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran”.  Here is the birth of Abram who soon will become Abraham and a very important figure in God’s plans.

“Abram’s wife was Sarai….was barren; she had no child”.  This is a problem in the culture of the day as giving birth was a big part of the value a woman brought to the marriage.  So Abrams father “Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there”.  They moved on and left the family behind to get a new start.  All of this God’s plan to enable His way.

Genesis 10

Genesis 10 lists the generations of Noah after the flood.  They were assigned the task of repopulating the earth, and they did a pretty good job of doing that.  Japeth had 7 sons.  They became the coastland peoples and “spread in their lands, each with his own language, by their clans, in their nations”.  Ham had four sons and one in particular is listed as special.  Scripture tells us Cush, who was one of Ham’s sons, fathered Nimrod who “was the first on earth to be a mighty man”, at least in this second go round for mankind.  There were giants in the world before back in Genesis 6, but in the repopulation, Nimrod was unique.

Nimrod was “a mighty hunter before the Lord”.  He not only hunted the animals and kept them in check, but he also began to rule over those around him.  His kingdom was Babel and he went into Assyria and build Ninevah which will become famous later in a story of Jonah.  Cush’s sons spread over the land and built great cities.  Many people arose from the sons of Cush and his decendents.  Shem fathered five sons and they had a host of their own sons.

The three sons of Noah fathered many sons, and they each in turn carried that assignment forward and fathered many more.  This chapter lists “the clans of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations, and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood”.  It may be a boring read, but it gives us perspective.  Remember that when Noah and his boys left the ark, there were four families on the entire earth.  That is a pretty daunting situation when you think about it.

God blessed them though, and they are able to grow their families, build cities and spread out across the land.  They created their own languages and customs and began to form the shape of the new world.  Consider how God created things back in the beginning, and now how He is restarting things after wiping out most of His creation.  He puts a lot of faith and trust in a very few to not only create, but shape all of mankind.  The opportunity to do much is obvious in His design.  The question is what we do with the opportunity He gives each one of us!

Genesis 9

Genesis 9 has Noah and his family off the ark.  “God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth”.  There is a new start happening here, and Noah and his sons and their wives have some work to do – they have to restart the human race and take on the responsibility that God has given them – to be over every beast and bird and all creatures large and small on land and in the sea.  God has set Noah and the boys up to be caretakers of his creation in round two.

God makes a covenant with Noah.  “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you”.  God wants a relationship that will last for eternity.  “I establish my covenant with you, that 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 not to flood the earth again.  He won’t destroy mankind again.  He has made the decision not to take the same route again, even if mankind returns to their sinful ways.

And not only did make a covenant, God gives Noah and all mankind a sign.  “I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth”.  The rainbow is God’s promise that no matter what happens, man won’t be wiped off the planet again.  God makes the covenant something we can see and will remind us of the covenant He has made.  I saw a rainbow yesterday, and it reminded me, without even really thinking about it, that God is in a covenant relationship with us.

Noah has a bit of a lapse of common sense as he tends the land and gets drunk on the output of his vineyard.  He was laying naked and was lying in his tent.  His sons Shem and Japeth covered him to protect his honor, but Ham had seen Noah’s nakedness and that brought about Noah’s wrath on him.  Ham is banished to be a family of servants to his two other brothers as a punishment for his lack of respect.  Noah was around for some time after the flood.  Remember he built the ark at 600, and “After the flood Noah lived 350 years. All the days of Noah were 950 years, and he died”.  Plenty of time to help oversee the repopulation of the earth as God had instructed.

Genesis 8

Genesis 8 has Noah and his ark floating on the waters which have now completely covered the earth.  “God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark”.  God was on watch the entire time Noah and what was left of His creation were holed up in the ark.  And as the days went by, God made the wind blow in order to begin drying out the earth.  “At the end of 150 days the waters had abated….the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat”.

So the ark has landed but the waters were still over the earth.  Noah sends out a raven, and then a dove to try and determine what the status of the land was.  Finally the dove came back with an olive leaf and Noah knew things were starting to dry.  The next time he sent out the dove, it didn’t return and Noah knew the land had dried and could support life.  “Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and behold, the face of the ground was dry”.  But Noah doesn’t rush off the ark.  He waits.

God said to Noah, Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you”.  God tells him to unload the ark and bring the birds and animals and every creeping thing off the boat onto the land.  So Noah obeys God again.  And the boat is unloaded and his family disembarks and “Noah built an altar to the Lord”.  He immediately offers a sacrifice to the Lord.  Noah doesn’t take credit, nor forget how God saved his family from the destruction the rest of the world had experienced.  Noah remembered the Lord.

And God remembered Noah too.  ” And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done”.  The promise comes – God is not going to do the same thing again and destroy all of mankind for their evil ways.  God gives us that promise – He knows the heart of man and the reality that sin will be part of the world man lives in.  And God commits to not cleaning house like He did this time.

Genesis 7

Genesis 7 has the Lord talking to Noah about the flood that is to come.  “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have seen that you are righteous before me in this generation”.  God gives Noah the command to get into the ark.  Remember he has been building it for many years, and while there has never been any rain to this point, God is telling Noah it is on the way.  “For in seven days I will send rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and every living thing that I have made I will blot out from the face of the ground”.

God isn’t just going to disrupt life on earth.  He is going to wipe it out – blot it completely out – and be sure that everything would start anew.  How man could go so wrong in such a short time is hard to imagine.  Yet God was frustrated enough that He was willing to wipe out most of creation to give things a new start.  Noah had set himself apart from all others.  “Noah did all that the Lord had commanded him”.  Note that Noah wasn’t mostly obedient.  He did ALL that God had asked.  He was completely obedient to God’s direction.

Noah wasn’t a youngster when this all happens either.  “Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came upon the earth”.  Can you imagine managing the loading of all those animals and other creatures onto the ark?  The creatures likely came on their own.  “They went into the ark with Noah, two and two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life”.  God orchestrated an amazing response to the coming flood.  The boat gets loaded and “the Lord shut him in”.  God sealed the door to the ark to keep out the water and keep everyone and everything on board safe.

The rain came down and the floods moved up.  “The waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered”.  We’re talking a lot of water as all the mountains on the face of the earth were covered, and not just a little but 15 cubits deep.  God made sure the flood did it’s intended work.  “He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground”.  This was a complete reset of what He had created.  And God left the water there for enough time to be sure it was all cleaned up as “the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days”.

Genesis 6

Genesis 6 had God regretting one part of His creation – mankind.  “The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”.  Not much has changed.  Man was created in God’s image.  He was placed in paradise in the Garden of Eden.  He sinned and was punished.  And ever since has been falling short of God’s expectation.  During Noah’s time, things were out of hand.  “And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth”.

What a change from creation when God looked at what He had created on day six – and said it was very good.  It didn’t take man long to mess up that very good start.  And God has had it – “I will blot out man”.  God isn’t just disappointed.  He has given up on His creation and is going to remove it from the face of the earth.  He has had it.  There was however one bright spot.  “Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord….a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God”.

Noah was the one man whom God was pleased with.  Noah lived a life pleasing to God.  He walked with God and earned a different response than the rest of mankind.  God does pay attention.  He notices how we live.  God has decided “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence”.  It was beyond saving, so God chose a different tact, to just remove all man.  “God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them”.  God is going to start again with Noah and his three sons.

So God tells Noah “Make yourself an ark”.  Can you imagine that request.  It has never rained as of this time.  And now, God wants Noah to build a boat and not just any boat, a giant boat capable of hauling lots of living beings.  He tells Noah “I will bring a flood of waters upon the earth….everything that is on the earth shall die”.  This won’t be a little disruption.  It will wipe out all life that is not on that ark.  God goes further and says “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….you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you”.  Pretty big order indeed.  Noah has been tasked with saving God’s creation and creating the foundation from which life can start over.  Big order and a lot of work to do to get ready.

Genesis 5

Genesis 5 makes me tired.  It is the list of the generations of Adam.  I struggled to keep up with my kids when we parented them in our 20’s and 30’s.  Adam had Seth when he was 130 years old, and had more sons and daughters after that.  Seth was 105 when he had his first son Enosh.  They lived 930 and 912 years old respectively.  Wow – that is quite a life.  Plenty of time to leave a legacy there across a whole lot of generations.  We think it special when we have four generations together, but Adam experienced a whole lot more than that.

Enosh had a son when he was 90 – Kenan – so is bringing that age down.  He lived to be 905 and then died.  Kenan was only 70 when he fathered Mahalalel, so the age is creeping down for first borns.  And he lived 910 years and had other sons and daughters along the way.  Mahalalel fathered his son at age 65 named Jared. He is the first of the men to not make 900 years old and died at age 895.  Jared fathers Enoch but waited til he was 162 so a big step the other way.  Maybe they learned that parenting needed some more wisdom before starting the family.

Enoch fathered Methuselah at age 65, and the description changes on Enoch.  Scripture says he “walked with God….300 years and had other sons and daughters”.  He only lived 365 years, less than half of the former men.  But his life was different.  Scripture says “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him”.  Methusaleh waited til he was 187 to father Lamech and lives to be the oldest of the folks described – dying at age 969.  Lamech took a page from his dad’s book and fathered Noah at age 182.  He lived to be 777 years old.

After Noah was 500 years old, Noah fathered Shem, Ham and Japheth”.  He waited way longer than any of the rest.  Noah is the 10th generation descendent from Adam, which actually is quite a few years since they all lived so long, but still a relatively short piece of the timeline.  Only ten generations to become corrupt as we’ll learn in the next chapters, bad enough that God wants to start over.  Sin is a problem that God can’t tolerate.  He is not willing to allow it to go unchecked.

Genesis 4

Genesis 4 begins with “Now Adam knew Eve his wife”.  Sex was God’s idea.  He created us to enjoy it, and when we enjoy it the way God intended, inside the bonds of marriage, it is a wonderful thing.  Eve has two boys, Cain and Abel, and they grew up and brought the Lord an offering.  Abel brought his offering of firstborn in his flock while Cain brought the fruit of the ground.  God accepted Abel’s offering, but rejected what Cain brought.  And that didn’t sit well with the older brother.

In fact, God calls him out on it and wonders why he is angry.  Cain didn’t bring a correct offering, so God did what He had to do by rejecting it.  Then these words appear.  “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it”.  Cain blew it when it came to bringing an offering to God.  He wants to blame Abel for the problem, but in fact it was his own choice.  Sin sits waiting for us to make the wrong choices.  Temptation is lurking and just waiting to pounce.  We have to rule over that temptation as it seeks to rule us.

Cain takes things into his own hands, and decides if he can’t beat his brother, he’ll just kill him and get him out of the way.  So he does, and then has to face God.  He becomes a fugitive and wanderer of the earth.  Cain is afraid of being killed in his wandering ways, but God assures him that he won’t escape the punishment that easily.  Cain leaves the presence of the Lord and has a son named Enoch and builds a town with that name.

Adam and Eve come together again and Eve bears a third son named Seth.  “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him”.  Eve is obviously much older now as she already has two grown sons.  But God’s plan was to give her another, and Seth is born.  He too has a son named Enosh, a name pretty close to Cain’s son Enoch.  But during the time of Adam and Eve’s third son people come back to the Lord.  “At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord”.  This story is almost like a soap opera.  Bad decisions lead to bad consequences.

Genesis 3

Genesis 3 has Adam and Eve in the garden.  And there was a third being there – the serpent.  And the serpent asks the woman “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden”?  The woman knew exactly what God had said which was “you shall not eat of the fruit of the tree”.  It wasn’t gray, it was completely black and white.  But the serpent twisted the commandment and convinced the woman that eating the fruit would be a good thing.  So “she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate”.

After they ate their eyes were opened and they knew they had disobeyed what God had said.  “The man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God”.  We too often know when we have disobeyed God.  Sometimes we try and hide, or pretend it didn’t happen, but we know we have made a wrong choice.  God comes to the garden and asks “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat”?  Adam admits it but blames the woman.  Eve admits she ate the fruit, but immediately blames the serpent.

It would be easy to blame Eve for what happened here.  After all, she was the one who disobeyed first and then brought Adam into the sinful act.  But looking carefully at the text, Adam was with her as she took the fruit from the tree and ate it.  Adam isn’t innocent here.  He watched her violate God’s commandment.  While the serpent certainly tempted her, the truth of the matter is that Eve made a choice to take the fruit and eat it.  The serpent didn’t force her, she made the choice.  That is the reality of sin.  It is a choice.  We make the choice intentionally to violate God’s law or commandments.

God then punishes all three participants in this sin.  The serpent is banished to “on your belly you shall go”.  The woman it told that this sin will “multiply your pain in childbearing”.  The man is also punished with a future of “the sweat of your face you shall eat bread”.  There is a price to pay when we make the choice to sin.  God does not just let it pass.  His nature won’t allow that.  In fact, in this case “the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken”.  Adam and Eve are kicked out of paradise – the Garden of Eden – because of their sin.  Sin always carries a price tag.  We need to think carefully before giving in to temptation.

Genesis 2

Genesis 2 has the creation complete.  “And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done”.  God has spoke the world into existence, and now takes a day to rest.  Six days he worked, and then He rested.  We learn elsewhere in scripture that this is also God’s plan for us – to make the Sabbath a day of rest.  It is important for us and our human condition to take time to rest and refresh.  Not something many of us do well, but definitely part of God’s plan.

God created the Garden of Eden and placed man there.  “The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil”.  God has a plan for man – and “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it”.  God created a beautiful place and in it puts some special trees that were off limit to man.  He tells the man to care for the garden.  But God also very clearly gives a command to man.

Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”.  Is there any part of this command that seems difficult to understand?  God tells man to leave the tree of knowledge alone.  The rest of the garden is at his disposal, but this one tree is off limits.  It Is not for man to touch.  But Adam struggles to do that as we’ll learn in another chapter.  God does look at man and determines “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him”.

God doesn’t want man to be alone.  He creates woman form the rib of Adam and soon there is a helpmeet fit for him.  And God defines what should happen in the relationship between man and woman.  “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh”.  Leave, cleave, and become one flesh.  It is God’s design for marriage.  We are to leave home, put our total focus and affection on our wife and become one.  Self no longer is in control.  The focus is on us, not me.  Marriage is God’s idea.  So is sex.  Both are perfect when done in His plan His way!

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