Two… – VIII

November 29, 2017

Image result for photo Jacob and EsauGenesis 25:21-23

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

As we continue with the theme of Two…, let’s look at Two brothers, twins, Esau and Jacob. The featured Scripture is Genesis 25:21 through 23:

      Now Isaac pleaded with the LORD for his wife, because she was barren;
      and the LORD granted his plea. And Rebekah his wife conceived. But
      the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well,
      why am I this way?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD
      said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated
      from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older
      shall serve the younger.”

These Two are good examples of what the lives of a Godly person and an ungodly person look like. Esau, the firstborn, showed forth his ungodliness in several ways:

      He despised his birthright ! (See Genesis 25:29-33).

✡      The birthright was very important in that ancient culture! The firstborn of the father inherited twice as much as other sons upon his father’s death (see Deuteronomy 21:17), and it was his responsibility to see the family name remain in good standing, help his siblings and families in their struggles, and be the priest of the family. In the lineage of Abraham, the right of the firstborn included God’s covenant of prosperity, seed, land, and Savior!

       ✡      It is written in Genesis 25:33 with Hebrews 12:16, “…for one morsel of bread…and stew of lentils…Esau despised…and…sold his birthright.His was the mind of one set on earthly things only! For he said, “”Look, I am about to die; so what profit shall this birthright be to me?He thought only of satisfying his physical hunger, not of the spiritual consequences! His theme would probably have been “…let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die…! (Isaiah 22:13; I Corinthians 15:32).

But God tells us through the Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:1 through 3:

      If you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where
      Christ is sitting on the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above,
      not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with
      Christ in God.

      Esau’s choice of wives further conveys his ungodly worldview! We are told in Genesis 26:34 and 35: “…he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah.These were women from a pagan tribe that God had said in Deuteronomy 20:17, and 7:3 and 4: “…you shall utterly destroy the Hittite[s]….Nor shall you make marriages with them….For they will turn away your sons from following Me, to serve other gods….” His third wife was “…Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael…” (Genesis 28:9). He married her when, according to the preceding verse, “…Esau saw that the daughters of Canaan did not please his father Isaac.” The problem was not their tribe of origin, but that both the women of Canaan and the women descended from Ishmael were not of spiritual lineage! This concept was totally lost to the mind of elder twin!

•      Esau represents worldly unspiritual people who only…mind the things of the flesh…” (Romans 8:5 – King James Version – see also Romans 8:6-8; Ephesians 2:1-3). It is only by God’s grace that we are given the opportunity through faith in Jesus Christ to become His spiritual children! (See John 1:12; Ephesians 2:8, 9).

      The descendants of Esau were trouble for Israel through the ages! Esau was also known as Edom (see Genesis 25:30; 36:8), and the Edomites were often Israel’s enemies! (See I Kings 11:14-16; Psalm 137:7; Ezekiel 25:12-14; Joel 3:19; Amos 1:11). But the most dangerous enemies of Israel were the Amalekites! So dangerous were they that the LORD ordered their complete extinction! (See Exodus 17:14; Deuteronomy 25:19; I Samuel 15:2, 3). And Amalek was the grandson of Esau! (See Genesis 37:12). Amalek inherited the Godless nature of his grandfather – and greatly increased it!

      So set was Esau in his ungodly ways – so unresponsive to God, the LORD stated in Malachi 1:3, “…Esau I have hated…” (see also Romans 9:13).

Jacob was the younger twin brother of Esau. He was far from being Godly through much of his adult life. But, when God reached out to him, he was responsive to that call! We will save this study for our next blog.

Two… – VII

November 27, 2017

Image result for photo Isaac and IshmaelGalatians 4:22, 23, 28, 31

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

We are looking at the Two sons of Abraham, Ishmael and IsaacIshmael, we saw in the last blog, was the child who was born as a result of Abraham and Sarah not trusting God and trying themselves to bring about the LORD’s promise of an heir produced from their own bodies! (See Genesis 15: 4; 17:16; 18:10).  Our featured Scripture is from Galatians 4:22, 23, 28, and 31 – part of Saint Paul’s commentary on the incident:

      …Abraham had two sons; the one by a bondwoman, the other by a
      freewoman.  But he who was of the bondwoman was born according
      to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise….Now we,
      brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise….we are not children
      of the bondwoman but of the free.

The bondwoman is Hagar, Sarah’s servant.  The freewoman is Sarah herself.  God had been promising Abraham a son for years! (See Genesis 12:2; 13:15, 16; 15:4, 18; 17:6-8).  The promises started when he was 75 years old (see Genesis 12:4).  Ten years later, God had still not fulfilled His promise to the old man, now at least 85 years old! (See Genesis 16:16).  While that seems a long time to wait for a divine prophecy to be fulfilled, it is but a blink of an eye to our eternal God!  Sarah’s pre-conversion name was Sarai (see Genesis 17:15) which means “dominative”.  She was a forceful woman!  And sheforcedher plan for producing an heir upon her husband!See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children.  Please go into my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.” (Genesis 16:2).  Ishmael was the result – and (as we saw in the last blog) Ishmael was trouble!

Why did God wait another 14 years for Sarah to become pregnant? (See Genesis 21:5).  He wanted this to be a miracle that no one could deny was from His hand!  Paul says it this way in Romans 4:16 through 21:

      …Abraham…contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the
      father of many nations, according to what was spoken, “So shall your
      descendants be.”  And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his
      own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and
      the deadness of Sarah’s womb.  He did not waver at the promise of
      God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to
      God, and being bully convinced that what He had promised He was
      also able to perform.

But it took Abraham years to come to this firm faith!  Do not beat yourself up over your faith that seems weak at times.  You must grow your faith!  You do this through reading, studying, even memorizing the Scripture!  For it says in Romans 10:17, “…faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  Take out the “…by hearing, and hearing…” (in Paul’s day many were illiterate, and there was much oral teaching) and you have the core of the truth:  “…faith comes…by the word of God.

Isaac was the…child…of promise.” (Galatians 4:28).  Good things came from this heir of Abraham!

•      Genesis 21:12 – “…in Isaac your seed shall be called.” (See also Hebrews 11:18).  The ultimate heir in the line of descent from Abraham through Isaac is, of course, Jesus Christ – and through Him all true believers!  Paul says the same in Romans 9:6 through 8, and 24:

      …they are not…all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but
      “in Isaac your seed shall be called.”  That is, those who are the children
      of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the
      promise are counted as the seed…not of the Jews only, but also of the

•      We have a beautiful picture of substitutionary sacrifice when the father Abraham willingly offered the son Isaac on Mount Moriah (see Genesis 22:1-13).  The substitution was the ram caught in a thicket by its horns.  The fulfillment of this shadow prophecy is in John 3:16:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”  Jesus took our place – substituting Himself as the sinner (you and me), to take our eternal punishment on the cross, so we could live!

•      It was Isaac who inherited what is calledthe Abrahamic Covenent’ (see Genesis 12:1-3; 17:8; 26:3-5), God’s promise of blessings, land, and descendants!

The following is a brief contrast between…he who was of the bondwoman [who] was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman [who was] through promise.” (Galatians 4:23):

      ✡      Ishmael was born according to the flesh!  His conception was the result of Abraham and Sarah’s attempt to fulfill God’s promise by their own means.  We have seen that it did not work out!  Isaac, on the other hand, was through promise – his parents relying on God totally, because there was no way a couple of that age (Abraham at 100 and Sarah at 90) could ever have a baby!

      ✡      Ishmael is said to be born according to the flesh but Isaac through promise.  Paul discusses these to concepts in Romans 8:5 through 8 (Literal Translation of the Holy Bible).  In this passage, he refers to promise as the things of the Holy   Spirit :

      For the ones that are according to flesh mind the things of the flesh.
      And the ones according to Spirit mind the things of the Spirit.  For the
      mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace;
      because the mind of the flesh is enmity towards God; for it is not being
      subjected to the Law of God, for neither can it be.  And those being in
      the flesh are not able to please God.

The contrast is stark when we compare the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:16 tlhrough 23.  Study these two lists and see for yourself.

What is the ultimate truth we can learn from Ishmael and Isaac?

•      We must follow the path of faith as did Abraham and Sarah when Isaac was born!  For it is only through faith that we sinners become the children of God! (See John 1:12; Ephesians 2:8, 9; I John 5:11-13).

•      We must then live faithfully, for as we are told multiple times, “The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38 – see Habakkuk 2:4).  As we are reminded in Galatians 3:3, “Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect in the flesh?

The Christian life is all by faith!  Remember this, and live it out – for the glory of God!


Two… – VI

November 24, 2017

Image result for photo Isaac and IshmaelGenesis 16:1 and 2; 21:1-3

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Today, let’s consider Two sons of Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac.  The featured Scripture is from two different chapters.  We will get to that in a moment.

Ishmael and Isaac, Two different mothers by one father, and Two very different outcomes of their lives!  God had promised Abraham three different time previously September 26, 2017that he would have offspring – countless offspring!

•      Genesis 12:2 – “I will make you a great nation; and I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.

•      Genesis 13:16 – “…I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants could be numbered.

•      Genesis 15:4 and 5 – “…the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘…one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.’  Then He brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven and count the stars if you are able to number them….So shall your descendants be.’ ”  By the way, the number of stars Abraham could see on a cloudless, moonless night was about 2,500!

But Abraham and Sarah got impatient! And so the Two sons of Abraham had Two different origins!

•      Genesis 16:1 and 2 – “So Sarai said to Abram, ‘See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children.  Please go in to my maid…Hagar…; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.’  And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai.

Perhaps we should briefly consider why Abraham and Sarah were previously known as Abram and Sarai !  Abram means “exalted father” according to The New Scofield Reference BibleAbraham means “father of a mulitude” – reflective of what God intended to accomplish through this patriarch.  This name-change is recorded in Genesis 17:5.  In verse 15 of the same chapter, Sarai also had a name-change!  Sarai, means “dominative”, but Sarah means “a mistress – a female noble…princess.” (Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary.Both husband and wife were given new names to reflect God’s purpose for them after He gave them new and Godly natures! (See Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26; II Corinthians 5:17).

Hagar, Sarah’s maid, became pregnant, and we are told Genesis 16:15 and 16, “So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son…Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ismael….”  Ishmael was the offspring of man’s attempt to help God fulfil His promises!  But God does not need any help – unless He so directs us to take part.  Ishmael was trouble from the start!

      ✡      Genesis 16:4 – “…when…Hagar…saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes.”  Hagar, being Sarai’s servant, was to be in submission and obedience to her mistress.  But when she became pregnant and barren Sarai could not conceive, Hagar held Sarai in contempt!

      ✡      Ishmael was 14 years old when Isaac was born (compare Genesis 16:16 with Genesis 21:5).  Just before that God assured the elderly patriarch in Genesis 17:15 and 16:  “…I will bless…Sarah…and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.”  But by this time, Abraham was 99 and Sarah 89! (See Genesis 17:1, and compare it with Genesis 17:17).  Apparently the old man was having a hard time believing that God could/would give them a son at their age!  So in Genesis 17:18 Abraham pleaded with God,Oh, that Ishmael might live before You! ”  The lad was obviously not exemplifying a Godly life!  Any parent who has beseeched the LORD to intercede in the life of a wayward son or daughter would understand this.

      ✡      The day Isaac was weaned (in that culture perhaps as much as five years after birth) we are told in Genesis 8 through 10 that…

      …Abraham made a great feast….And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the
      Egyptian…scoffing.  Therefore she said to Abraham, “Cast out this
      bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be
      heir with my son…Isaac.”

It broke Abraham’s heart to send Ishmael and his mother away (see Genesis 21:11).  But God assured him, “Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.  Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed.” (Genesis 21:12 and 13).

      ✡      And Ishmael did become a multitudinous nation!  Muslims point to Abraham as their founding father.  However they trace their lineage through Ishmael, not through Isaac!  They say that it was Ishmael whom Abraham offered upon the altar, not Isaac! (See Genesis 22:1-19 for the Biblical account).

Yet today we feel the effect of Abraham and Sarah’s unwise decision to help bring about God’s promise of a son.  It is radical Islam that seeks to destroy both Israel and America!  It is radical Islam that causes so much destruction and death to western society!  It is radical Islam that has cost so much in financial, material, and human resources!

Do not become so impatient with the LORD’s fulfillment of His promises that you feel you need to step in and help Him!  His timing is perfect!

More on these Two sons of Abraham in the next blog.

In Word Or Deed

November 22, 2017

Image result for photo ThanksgivingColossians 3:16, 17

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I will take a break from Two… and concentrate on a Thanksgiving theme. Colossians 3:16 and 17 is a good Scripture passage for this:

      Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and
      admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
      singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do
      in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks
      to God the Father through Him.

Notice the admonition the Apostle Paul gives us in verse 17: “…whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

      “Whatever you do in word or deed….” – This pretty much covers anything we could say or do! The only thing unmentioned is what we think! But since all words that come out of our mouth are preceded by to some degree by thought (see Matthew 12:34; 15:18), this mental aspect of our existence is covered also. So in every part of your life…

      “…do all in the name of the Lord Jesus….” – In the Bible, the name of a person often reflects who that person is or what he or she does! In this instance, Jesus is the Greek rendering of the Old Testament Hebrew name Joshua (or Jehoshua). Both mean “Jehovah is salvation.” (The New Scofield Reference Bible, margin note on Matthew 1:21). So the name of the Lord Jesus is closely tied to the whole person and work of Jesus! To do all in His name is to do all according to His will – in total obedience to Him! (See Mark 12:30 with John 14:15).

      “…giving thanks to God the Father….” The idea here is, as you do your life, give thanks while you are doing it! Now, not all the time do we consider that we are doing life! Too often life seems to just happen to us whether we actively do it or not! But what Paul is saying here about thanksgiving is reflected in two other verses:

      ✞      Ephesians 5:20 – “…giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

      ✞      I Thessalonians 5:18 – “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

For all things and in everything give thanksall the time! But how do we give thanks when what life hands us seems bad and not good? …when life hurts? The answer is in Romans 8:28 and 29.

      ✞      Just about every Christian has heard of Romans 8:28. Many can even quote it: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” Yes, but how does the sickness and death of a loved one – or our own terminal diagnosis work together for good? How does financial ruin or a broken marriage and fractured family work together for good? We could go on and on with examples, but when tough things happen, Romans 8:28 can begin to sound like pollyanna glibberish! It is too much like saying,Keep smiling! The sun will shine again!

      ✞      We need to know, by whose standard is the good of Romans 8:28 measured? It is God’s standard, measured by His purpose! And that purpose is defined in Romans 8:29: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

              ▸      God’s purpose for every Christian is to conform us to the image of His Son Jesus Christ ! This is a long, often slow and painful process! For we grow in Christian graces the most under the pressure of trials and testings!

              ▸      We can mark down whatever we experience in life for good because we know that God is making us more and more into the image of Jesus! (See also Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4).

This still sounds hard to accomplish – sometimes out of our reach! But we have a resource which Paul points to in verse 16 of our featured Scripture: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly….The word of Christ is Scripture, the Bible, also called the word of God.

      Hebrews 4:12 – “…the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

      Acts 20:32 – “…the word…is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

      II Peter 1:4 – concerning God’s “…great and precious promises…through these you may be partakers of the divine nature….

The point is that God often calls us to do what seems impossible! How can we be giving thanks to God the Father in whatever we do in word and deed? Life just doesn’t seem to work that way! The secret lies in that resource mentioned just a bit ago – the word of Christ ! Those three verses mentioned above (and there are many others) show that we are dealing with a miraculous word! If we let that word of Christ dwell in us richly, we will find ourselves empowered to experience what Paul writes in Ephesians 3:20: “Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us….If we get into our Bibles, and our Bibles get into us, we will be able to accomplish what is beyond our human capacity – even sincerely thanking God in and for whatever we do…even in the toughest of times!

Two… – V

November 20, 2017

Image result for photo Abraham's choice Lot's choiceGenesis 13:14-17

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Two relatives, two choices, and the two outcomes of the two relatives’ choices – we have concentrated in the last three blogs on Lot’s choice and it’s disastrous results!  Now let’s look at how Abraham’s choice turned out!  Here’s Genesis 13:14 through 17:

      And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift
      up your eyes now and look from the place where you are — northward,
      southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give
      to you and your descendants forever.  And I will make your descendants
      as the dust of the earth….Arise, walk in the land through its length and
      its width, for I give it to you.”

Abraham’s choice is recorded in Genesis 13:9 when he said to Lot, “Is not the whole land before you?  Please separate from me.  If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or…the right, then I…the left.”  Then God took over!  Read again our featured Scripture above.

      So the first result of Abraham’s choice was God’s direction!  But remember, the LORD had already promised him in Genesis 12:7, “To your descendants I will give this land [of Canaan].”  That’s why it’s called, “…the land of promise…” in Hebrews 11:9.  So Abraham was already familiar with God’s word!

That is upon what our decisions are to be based!  How can we make Godly choices if we are not familiar with what He wants?  And what He wants – the LORD’s mind – is revealed in the Bible!

      ✞      The Bible is not man’s word!  We are told in II Peter 1:21, “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”  Although this refers to the Old Testament, the same is true of the New! (See II Timothy 3:16, 17).  Scripture is God’s Word perfectly reflecting God’s mind!

      ✞      Because the Holy Spirit takes residence within us when we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior (see I Corinthians 6:19, 20), we have the potential of being led by the mind of the LORD from within! (See Isaiah 30:21).  That is why Paul writes in…

               ▸      …Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.

               ▸      …I Corinthians 2:16, “…we have the mind of Christ.

Notice in our featured Scripture that Abraham was told that he would be given…all the land which you see…northward, southward, eastward, and westward…” (Genesis 13:14 and 15).  Lot had already chosen…all the plain of Jordan…, to the west!  But God knew Lot would not keep it!  Although the site of the Dead Sea and surrounding desert is desolate, it will yet prove invaluable to Abraham’s descendants because of the available minerals and the confirmed rich oil reserves!

•      The land of promise (or the Promised Land) has been the center of God’s work in the earth ever since Abraham!  And, according to Jeremiah 30:3 with Romans 11:25 and 26, God will yet work in and through that land of Israel ! (See also Zechariah 14:4; Acts 1:11).  And in the…new heaven and…new earth…” (Revelation 21:1), the blessed center of it all will be…the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God…and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will…be their God.” (Revelation 21:2 and 3).

      Because Abraham was faithful in obeying God (see especially Genesis 22:1-14), the LORD promised him in Genesis 22:16 through 18:

      “By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, because you have done this
      thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, in blessing I will
      bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the
      stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your
      descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies.  And in your seed
      shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed
      My voice.”

       ✡      Who are Abraham’s decendants?  Israelthe Jews!   They are Abraham’s descendants!

       ✡      And through what nation and people did the Lord Jesus Christ come?  Israel – the Jews – Abraham’s descendants!

And so it is written in Romans 4:11, 13, and 16 (Contemporary English Version) that Abraham is…

      …the father of all who are acceptable to God because of their faith….
      God promised Abraham and his descendants that He would give them
      the world.  This promise was…made because…his faith in God made
      him acceptable….Everything depends on having faith in God, so that
      God’s promise is assured by His great kindness.  This promise…is for
      all who are Abraham’s descendants because they have faith, just as he
      did. Abraham is the ancestor of us all.

What far-ranging outcomes resulted from Abraham’s choice!  …but from Lot’s choice also!  …one very good, and the other very bad – for generations to come!

So do not think that what you choose affects only your immediate self!  You may be setting the future for your children, grandchildren, and succeeding generations until the end of time – and on into eternity!  Be careful what you choose!  Follow the LORD – closely! (See Luke 9:23; John 12:26).

Two… – IV

November 17, 2017

Image result for photo Lot's two daughtersGenesis 19:24, 25, 30

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

We will continue to focus on the disastrous results of Lot’s choice described in Genesis 13:11:  “Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan….”  We saw his downward slide from there:

      Genesis 13:12 – “…Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom.”  He was near Sodom!

      Genesis 14:12 – “…Lot…dwelt in Sodom….

•      Genesis 19:1 – “…Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.”  Since the gate was the courthouse of the land, Lot was now part of the decision makers of Sodom!

      Genesis 19:14 – “…Lot…spoke to his sons-in-law…, ‘Get up, get out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city!’  But to his sons-in-law he seemed to be joking.”  By this time, he had such a poor testimony, even those close to him didn’t believe him!

      Genesis 19:16 – “…he lingered….”  Lot did not want to leave his worldly life in Sodom!

      Genesis 19:27 – “…his wife looked back behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.”  Just how Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt is open for discussion.  The point is that his family became infused with his sinful desires, and it cost his wife her life!

Now we come to our featured Scripture, Genesis 19:24, 25, and 30:

      Then the LORD rained brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah,
      from the LORD out of the heavens.  So He overthrew those cities, all
      the plain, all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground
      ….Then Lot…dwelt in the mountains, and his two daughters were with

As far as Lot’s two daughters knew, the whole world had been destroyed!  They said to each other, “…there is no man on the earth to come in to us as is the custom of all the earth.” (Genesis 19:31).  They were concerned that the three of them – Lot, the elder daughter, and the younger daughter – were the last people on earth, and no one was left to impregnate the two daughters and propagate the human race!  So they hatched a plan:  “…let’s get our father drunk with wine.  Then we can have sex with him.  That way we can use our father to keep our family alive! ” (Genesis 19:32 – Easy-to-Read Version).  Their plan worked!  For it says in Genesis 19:36, “Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father.”  But oh what a mess their plan did create!

•      First, they got their father drunk!  Ephesians 5:18 sums up God’s mind on the matter nicely:  “…do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit.”  Lot was so drunk on both occasions, it says concerning his incestuous affair with his two daughters,…he did not know when she lay down or when she arose.” (Genesis 19:33 and 35).  The LORD wants us to be sober! (See I Thessalonians 5:6, 8; I Peter 1:13).  The plain meaning in the Greek is “to abstain from wine.” (Strong’s Greek Dictionary).  He wants us to be able to think with a clear mind, controlled and led by the Holy Spirit!

•      Then they committed the horrible sin of incest!  According to Leviticus 20:10 through 12, incest is punishable by death!  By the way, so flagrant was the sin of sex with one’s child, it is assumed in this passage and didn’t even need to be openly mentioned!

      Both daughters got pregnant!

      ✡      Genesis 19:37 – “The firstborn bore a son and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day.

      ✡      Genesis 19:38 – “…the younger…also bore a son and called his name Ben-Ammi; he is the father of the people of Ammon to this day.

The Moabites and the Ammonites were throughout history – and are today – inveterate enemies of Israel! (See Numbers 22–25; Judges 3:12–30; 11:17; II Samuel 8:2; II Kings 13:20; 24:2; I Chronicles 18:2; II Chronicles 20:1–25).  They are two of the founding tribes of modern Islam, of whom radical extremists oppose Jews and Christians today!  But in the last days, a remnant of both Ammon and Moab will be in submission to God and be restored (see Jeremiah 47:48; 49:5, 6).

Nothing good comes as a result of sin!  And (as in Lot’s case) the disease of sin is progressive!  The only cure for the dilemma of sin is to turn by faith in repentance and confession to the Lord Jesus Christ! (See John 5:24; Ephesians 2:8, 9; Hebrews 10:16, 17; I John 1:7; 5:11-13).  Take care of the sin problem now, lest it leave a trail of destruction in its wake!

And, by the way, the whole …plain of Jordan…” (Genesis 13:10) – Lot‘s choice because it was so lush and green – was from the time of the LORD’s judgment (and still is today!) the site of the Dead Sea!  This body of water is so mineralized that nothing is known to be living in that sea!  The whole area is desert and desolate!  So much for Lot‘s choice!

Two… – III

November 15, 2017

Image result for photo destruction of Sodom and GomorrahGenesis 13:10-12

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

We have been looking at Abraham and Lot, uncle and nephewtwo relatives who made two choices, and the two outcomes of those two choices!  We’ve already covered two relatives, and their two choices.  Now let’s look at both the immediate and far-reaching outcomes of those two choices!  Our featured Scripture is Genesis 13:10 through 12:

      And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well
      watered everywhere…like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt
      ….Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed
      east….Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far
      as Sodom.

Abraham let Lot choose first – unusual in that ancient culture where age was given precedence!  We are told in Genesis 13:10 that “…the plain of Jordan…

•     …was well watered everywhere….”  The lower Jordan Valley looked ideal for Lot’s large herds of cattle, donkeys, camels, sheep, and goats!

•     …was…like the garden of the LORD….”  As he gazed over the valley, it must have reminded him of the traditions of the Garden of Eden, passed down through the generations since Adam.

•     …was…like the land of Egypt….”  Lot had spent time in Egypt (see Genesis 12:10-13:1), and that worldly, rich, and powerful nation had gotten a great hold in the heart of Abraham’s nephew!

There is a significant detail brought out in Genesis 13:11:  “Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan….”  It was not God’s choice!  It was what Lot wanted!  Be careful when tempted to follow the desires of your heart !  Jeremiah 17:9 warns us, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? ”  Paul reminded the Christians of Ephesus what everyone is like before conversion:  “…we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of [God’s] wrath….”  When Lot chose for himself (when we chose for ourselves) God is not consulted!  Such choices are based only on what we want!  Remember what Jesus said as He prayed to the Father in the garden:  “…nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42).  Do not rely on your own desires apart from God’s leading when making decisions!

II Peter 2:7 and 8 describe Lot thus:  “…that righteous man, dwelling among…the wicked… tormented his soul day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds….”  But the record of Genesis, chapters 13, 14, and 19 seems to speak otherwise!  There is a progression of this man sliding deeper and deeper into sin!

•      Genesis 13:11 and 12 – “…Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and…journeyed east….Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom.”  He was not in Sodom yet, but close!

•      Genesis 14:12 – When five kings (including the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah) rebelled against “…Chedorlaomer king of Elam…” (Genesis 14:1), the Elamites banded together with three other nations to fight – “…four kings against five…” (Genesis 14:9).  The victorious four kings “…took all the goods of Sodom and Gamorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way.  They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom….”  Before Lot was dwelling near Sodom. Now he was dwelling in Sodom!

•      Genesis 19:1 – According to Genesis 18:20 and 21, “…the LORD said, ‘Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and…their sin is very grievous, I will go down now and see….’ ”  When the two angels sent by God “…came to Sodom in the evening…Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom.

       ✡     The gate of a city was the town hall of that day – where the business of the city and its people was discussed and judged (see for instance Ruth 4:1-12).

       ✡     It seems that Lot was now a member of the town council in the sinful city of Sodom!

•      The evening of the angels’ arrival, we are told in Genesis 19:4 and 5 (International Standard Version):

      …all the men of Sodom and its outskirts, both young and old, surrounded
      the house.  They called out to Lot…“Where are the men who came to visit
      you tonight?  Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!”

What was Lot’s answer?  “Look here, I have two daughters who are virgins.  Let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them whatever you wish, only don’t do anything to these men…” (Genesis 19:8 – International Standard Version).

       ✡     Yes, in that culture…

              ▸      …women were not valued as highly as men were!

              ▸      …a host was expected to protect his guests!

       ✡     But these were Lot’s daughters!  To sacrifice them to a large crowd of rapists is unconscionable!  It is akin to burning one’s baby as a sacrifice to the god Molech! (See Leviticus 18:21; II Kings 21:6; Ezekiel 16:20, 21).

•      Genesis 19:14 – When the angels told Lot that the LORD was going to destroy Sodom and the surrounding cities, “…Lot…spoke to his sons-in-law [probably engaged to marry his daughters] and said, ‘Get…out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city!’  But…he seemed to be joking.”  Apparently, Lot’s testimony was so compromised that his sons-in-law took his serious warning as a joke!

•      Genesis 19:26 – As they were fleeing from the destruction of Sodom, Lot’s…wife looked back…and she became a pillar of salt.”  Just how she became a pillar of salt is puzzling.  But the point is, her husband’s involvement in sinful Sodom’s lifestyle infected her life to the point where her longing was back there in Sodom, not in God’s future!

Friday’s blog will complete the results of Lot’s choice.

Two… – II

November 13, 2017

Related imageGenesis 13:10-12

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

Next in the Two… series is two relatives, the two choices these two relatives made, and the two outcomes of their two choices!

•      Who are the two relatives? Uncle Abraham and Nephew Lot!

       ✡     Abraham (known as Abram in Genesis 13) was the chief patriarch of Israel! (See Romans 4:16).  Here is the promise God gave him in Genesis 12:1 through 3 when He called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldees:

      Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father’s house,
      to a land that I will show you.  I will make you a great nation; I will bless
      you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing.  I will bless
      those who bless you, and I will cures him who curses you; and in you all
      the families of the earth shall be blessed.

       ✡    Lot was Abraham’s nephew.  According to Genesis 11:27, he was the son of Haran, Abraham’s brother.  We are told in Genesis 12:4 that “…Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him….

•      Two choices that these two relatives made — First, we have to look at a choice Abraham made, recorded in Genesis 12:10:  “Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there….”  Apparently, Lot accompanied him (see Genesis 13:1).  When they returned some time later to Canaan, they had both grown so wealthy that they could not dwell in the same area because of needed grazing for their large flocks and herds (see Genesis 13:2, 5, 6).

       ✡    Abraham’s decision (Genesis 13:8 and 9) – “So Abram said to Lot, ‘Please let there be no strife between you and me….Please separate from me.  If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.”  This was very magnanimous of the older man!  In that culture, age took precedence, and Abraham should have had first choice!

       ✡    Lot’s choice – Part of our featured Scripture, Genesis 13:10 and 11, tells us this:

      And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well
      watered everywhere…like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt
      ….Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan….”

Why was Lot attracted to the plain of Jordan?

              ▸     …it was well watered everywhere….” – It looked to be a good pasture land for his flocks and herds!  According to Genesis 13:6 through 8:  “Now the land was not able to support them…. And there was strife between the herds-men of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock.”  They both needed good pasture, not arguments and fighting over grazing rights!

              ▸     …like the garden of the LORD….” – According to Genesis 5:1 though 32 and 11:1 through 27, there were 21 generations from Adam to Lot. (In Luke 3:34 through 38, 22 generations are listed).  The story of the garden of the LORD (the garden of Eden) and it’s paradisical environment, had been passed down generation to generation.  The plain of Jordan reminded Lot of this tradition!

              ▸     …like the land of Egypt….” – There was something else that drew Abraham’s nephew.  The plain of Jordan, especially south of what is now the Dead Sea, reminded Lot of the fertile Nile Valley in Egypt!

                       ➨     Now Egypt in the Bible has always represented the Godless world – a place from which God called out His own people unto Himself! (See Exodus 20:2; Matthew 2:15).  And He did not want His people to return there! (See Deuteronomy 17:16).

                       ➨      There was a cigarette jingle on TV years ago that went like this:  “You can take Salem out of the country, But – you can’t take the country out of Salem!”  In Abram’s nephew’s case – “You can take Lot out of Egypt, But – you can’t take Egypt out of Lot! ”  He must have enjoyed his stay in this worldly country, and wanted to replicate that experience!

It is not easy to change our original mind-set that is based on the world!  A follower of Jesus Christ must work hard to change his or her world view to that of God’s!  Such a world view has a head start of sometimes many years before we come to Christ.  In my case it was 19 years.  What is the chief tool for this endeavor?  It is the Bible!  For it says in II Timothy 3:15 and 16:

      All Scripture is by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for
      reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of
      God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

The Bible shows us the mind of God revealed through our Lord Jesus!  And Paul pleads with us in Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” (See I Corinthians 2:16).  Such a mind-set is in direct opposition from that of the world’s!  This opposition Paul had in mind when he penned Romans 12:2:  “…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (See also I John 2:15-17; 4:5, 6).  No wonder the apostle wrote in Colossians 3:16, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly….”  For the Holy Spirit will apply to our hearts and lives the living words of Scripture (see Hebrews 4:12) to …transform…[us] into the same image [of Christ – see Romans 8:29] from glory to glory… – more and more becoming like the Son of God!

We will continue this vignette of Abraham and Lot in our next blog on Wednesday.

Two… – I

November 10, 2017

Image result for cain and abel

Genesis 4:2-5, 8

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

The numbers in the Bible have meaning! For instance, three is the number of the TrinityGod’s number! Seven is the number of perfection! Six is the number of fallen man – one always short of perfection! But I want to concentrate on the number two! And it occurs many times in Scripture, so this will be a series. We will start with parts of Genesis 4:2 through 5, and verse 8:

      Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And
      …Cain brought an offering of the ground to the LORD. Abel also brought
      of the firstlings of his flock and their fat. And the LORD respected Abel
      and his offering. But He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain
      was very angry….Now Cain talked with Abel…when they were in the field…
      [and] Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.

Two…! Two brothers; two ways to approach God; two responses of the LORD; two reactions to the LORD’s responses; two results that forever affected humanity!

This is not the first example I could have used for Two…! For Adam and Eve would make for a good discussion. But they have often been the focus of studies, where Cain and Abel have taken more of a back seat. So let’s look at Cain and Abel…

•      Two brothers – We learn from verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 4 that Cain was Adam and Eve’s firstborn. Abel was born sometime after.

      ✞      God had promised our first parents as He announced to the snake in Genesis 3:15 (the proto evangelium – the first mention of the gospel): “…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Of course, this refers to the Messiah, Jesus Christ, who had His heel bruised by the crucifixion, but crushed the head of Satan – a death blow! (See John 12:31; Romans 16:20; Revelation 20:10).

      ✞      From what Eve exclaimed when Cain was born, “I have gotten a man from the LORD…” (Genesis 4:1), she must have thought this was the One who would defeat the devil and restore humankind to paradise!

•      Two ways to approach God – Each brother brought an offering according to his livelihood: Cain brought an offering of the ground and Abel brought of the firstlings of his flock.

      ✞      It is logical that the brothers thought, “This is what I do. This is what I will bring to God.

      ✞      But, as God said in Isaiah 55:8 and 9:

              “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,”
              says 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.”

              ▸      Why is that? Jeremiah 17:9 tells us, “The heart [of fallen sinful man] is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?

              ▸      And so our thoughts are bent, crooked, and totally missing the mark of God’s standard! What is His standard? Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:48, “…you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.Only in Christ can we reach the Father’s standard! And it consists of Jesus’ perfection – given freely to us upon receiving Him as our Savior! It is never earned! (See Ephesians 1:6; 2:8, 9).

      Two responses of the LORD – Why did He accept Abel’s offering, but reject Cain’s?

      ✞      Cain first – his offering was of the fruit of the ground – vegetables!

      ✞      Abel’s offering was of the firstlings of his flockinvolving the shedding of blood!

              ▸      All the sacrifices of the Old Testament, especially when blood was shed, point toward the sacrifice of the Lamb of God (see John 1:29, 36), whose…blood cleanses us from all sin.” (I John 1:9).

              ▸      God had already shown what was necessary for a sacrifice when, as it says in Genesis 3:21, “…for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.This necessitated the first sacrifice of blood for the covering of man!

              ▸      Although it does not say, there was probably further instruction given to Adam and Eve (and maybe also to Cain and Abel) concerning proper sacrifice!

      Two reactions to the LORD’s responses – both concerning Cain!

      ✞      The first is what God wanted Cain to do! In Genesis 4:6 and 7 (God’s Word to the Nations), the LORD said to Cain:

               Why are you angry, and why do you look disappointed? If you do well,
               won’t you be accepted? But if you don’t do well, sin is lying outside your
               door ready to attack. It wants to control you, but you must master it.

In other words, “Don’t give in to sin! Turn to God and let Him handle it!

      ✞      But Cain gave in to sin! He let his anger take control and murdered his brother! Why? Because, as it says in I John 3:12, “…Cain…murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own works were evil and his brother’s righteous.” Well, that’s one way to handle the disappointment of not winning – kill the one in first place! We know from further study of the scripture that Cain never repented of his sin! (See Genesis 4:9-17). And he fathered a godless line of descendants! (See Genesis 4:18-24).

      That brings us to our last point: Two results that forever affected humanity!

      ✞      Abel has always been an example of a Godly person following the right way! (See Matthew 23:25; Hebrews 11:4).

      ✞      Cain not only fathered a Godless line of descendants, he has forever been held up as an example of what not to be and do! As it is written in I John 3:11 and 12, “…we should love one another, not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother.

You have two choices! Follow the right one!

Managing Sin

November 8, 2017

Image result for bad management

Romans 6:12-14

(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)

How does one go about managing sin?  I struggled with that question for many years.  You see, I am very addictive.  Over the years I have been addicted to nicotine, alcohol, food, gambling, drugs, pornography – and a few other things!  Thank God He has given me victory over all these (although I cannot give up food entirely, and so I still sometimes engage in that battle).  I have to say though, that if I allowed myself even once to indulge in any one of these sinful activities, I think I could slip right back into full-blown addiction!

But how did I manage sin in my life?  I didn’t!!!  It managed me!  Here are some Bible truths about our human nature that adds light to the situation:

      Every one of us is born with a corrupted and sinful human nature!

      ✞      Originally, we were designed to be in our Creator’s image, and so be in fellowship with Him.  For it says in Genesis 1:26, “And God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness….’ ”  And every day, God walked in perfect union with His highest creation! (See Genesis 3:8).

      ✞      After our first parents bowed to the devil’s temptation (see Genesis 3:1-7), we inherited their sin nature! (See Romans 5:12).  Instead of receiving our nature from God as our Father, we carry Satan’s nature within our hearts because he is our father!  We end up naturally doing his will!  As Jesus said to the Pharisees (and to all of us!) in John 8:44:  “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.

•      What are the desires of your father you want to do?  They are called “…the works of the flesh…” in Galatians 5:19 through 21 (English Standard Version):  “…sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these.”  It’s not a pleasant list, and not even a complete list! (See also Romans 3:10-18; Ephesians 5:3, 4; Colossians 3:5, 8, 9; II Timothy 3:1-5).

      Paul, in Romans 6:16 through 22, presents the argument that in our old sinful nature we are…slaves of sin…” (verse 20).  Here is verse 16:  “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey…? ”  A slave must obey his or her master!  And if your master is Satan, then you will obey him whether you want to or not!  Proverbs 5:22 says the same thing:  “His own iniquities trap the wicked man, and he is caught in the cords of his sin.

In Romans 7:5 (God’s Word to the Nations), Paul tells us, “While we were living under the influence of our corrupt nature, sinful passions were at work throughout our bodies….our sinful passions did things that result in death.”  And the apostle describes his own struggles in Romans 7:7 through 25.  Here are highlights (or should we say lowlights) of Paul’s old-nature struggles – verses 14, 15, 17-20, 23, 24:

      …I am carnal [the old sinful nature], sold under sin.  For what I am doing,
      I do not understand.  For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what
      I hate, that I do….it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me.  For
      I know that in me (that is, in my flesh [the old nature] nothing good dwells;
      for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. 
      For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that
      I practice.  Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but
      sin that dwells in me….I see another law in my members, warring against
      the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which
      is in my members….O wretched man that I am!  Who shall deliver me from
      this body of death?

So we cannot succeed in Managing Sin!  If we push it down in one place in our lives, it will pop up in another – kind of like the arcade game of ‘Whack-a-Mole’.  What do we do if we cannot be Managing Sin?  We must eradicate it!

      But, as the apostle Paul found out, it is impossible to do this by ourselves!

      ✞      In Isaiah 64:6, the prophet laments this truth concerning how we appear in God’s eyes:  “But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags.”  Our righteousnesses are the very best we can do on our own!  So if our righteousnesses are like filthy rags before God, what do our wicked works look like to Him?  If Isaiah’s statement is true – and it is – before the Lord on our own, no matter how good we think we might be, we can only add more and more sin to our account!

      ✞      We must find some other way, someone else to eradicate our sinful nature!  That someOne else is Jesus Christ!

      The eradication of our sinful nature is really two-fold:

      ✞      When we come to God through faith in Jesus Christ, believing that…

              ▸      …He became sin and sinner before the Father!

              ▸      …He died for me on the cross!

              ▸      …He paid the penalty fully for all sin for all time!

              ▸      …He gives me His own righteous standing before the Father!

                                               …(see II Corinthians 5:21)

We are given a new Godly nature (see II Corinthians 5:17; Colossians 3:10), that cannot and will not sin! (See I John 3:9; 5:18).  The problem is that we still have the old sinful nature – that nature that only can sin!

      ✞      We must learn to allow that new Godly nature to dominate our life!  And this is where our featured Scripture comes in, Romans 6:12 through 14:

      …do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its
      lusts.  And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteous-
      ness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead,
      and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.  For sin shall
      not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

              ▸      It is a conscious moment-by-moment choice which nature will rule my life!  The best way to handle this challenge is by following what Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane as He prayed to the Father – Luke 22:42:  “…nevertheless not My will, but Yours be done.

              ▸      We can tilt the battle greatly in our favor by feeding the new nature with Spiritual sustenance, God’s Word, the Bible! (See Job 23:12; Jeremiah 15:16; Matthew 4:4; John 17:17; Romans 12:2; Colossians 3:10, 16; I Peter 2:2).

And so, instead of trying to be Managing Sin in my life, I have learned to let God eradicate my sin!  I just continue to do what the Lord tells me to do!  It is all in the Bible!  As it says in II Peter 1:3 and 4:

      …His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godli-
      ness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by
      which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that
      through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped
      the corruption that is in the world through lust.