Sunday, 24 January 2016

Travelling Through God's Word: Genesis

Genesis
We have been created by God. We have been created to be like God. "God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light." We are to let His light shine. His light is the light of His love. It is the light of life. Let there be light, love and life. May light, love and life be seen in us.
"You may freely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not ear, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." A command is not to be discussed. It is to be obeyed. Do what God tells you to do, and you will be blessed. Go your own way, instead of God's way, and there will be no blessing. God's command is also His promise and His warning.
The "serpent" begins with questioning, and moves quickly on to contradicting. He's a liar - from the beginning to the end. There will be conflict between "the serpent" and "the seed of the woman" (Christ) - "you (the serpent) shall bruise His heel", but the victory belongs to the Lord - "He shall bruise your head." We see this conflict and victory in the death of Christ. The serpent tried to destroy the Saviour. He failed. God raised His Son from the dead.
Cain and Abel brought very different offerings. In Abel's offering, we catch a glimpse of the sacrifice of Christ, "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Was there hope for Cain? Yes! "If you do well, will you not be accepted?" There is also a word of warning - "Sin is crouching at the door." Cain's ruin was not inevitable - "you must master sin."
"Enoch walked with God" - on and on, he walked, into eternity. God gives us a future - "eternal life", but we must learn to walk with him while we are here on earth. In these words about Enoch, we catch a glimpse of God's purpose for our life. He's teaching us to walk with Him. He's preparing us for His eternal glory.
Noah stood out from the crowd - "the wickedness of man was very great ... But Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord." We must go the way of Noah, not the way of the crowd:   "Noah walked with God."
The truth about mankind is stated clearly - "the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth", but there's also something else here. It's the grace of God. He looks beyond our sin. He gives us hope for the future: "Neither will I ever again destroy every living creature." When it seems like we're being overwhelmed by the darkness, we must not lose sight of the light of God's love. Our sin is great. His love is greater than our sin.
Life is full of highs and lows. We look up at the rainbow, and we see the greatness of God's love for us. We look inside ourselves, and we see how low we can sink - "Noah became drunk ... " When we fall down, how are we to be raised up? Are we to say, "Come, ... let us make a name for ourselves"? No! We must  listen to what God says to us - "The Lord said to Abram." We must do what He says to us - "Go ... ", and we must leave it to Him to fulfil His promise: "I will make your name great."  We must learn to give God all the glory, and stop trying to lift ourselves up: "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up."
"Abram was 75 years old." It's never too late to make a new beginning with God.He gives us the strength that we need to put our past behind us and move on into His future. The Lord was leading Abram. How did Abram respond? "Abram built an altar to the Lord." He worshipped the Lord. He "called on the Name of the Lord." "There was a famine in the land." When we're walking with God, we don't always walk straight into favourable circumstances. Should Abram have gone "down into Egypt"? Going down into Egypt was the beginning of a downward slope - telling lies, which brought Abram - and his God - into disrepute.There is the beginning of a return to God - journeying to Bethel, "the place where he had made an altar", back to the place he had been before he went down to Egypt. Now that Abram was worshipping the Lord again, he was less self-centred. The blessing of God returned to his life, and he continued worshipping God.

Lot was very different from Abram. Lot loved the world more than he loved the Lord. This is a warning for us. Make sure that you don't become like Lot. We read about Lot, and we wonder, "Had God given up on Lot?" Before we start thinking like this, here's something for us to think about. "So the enemy ... captured Lot, Abram's kinsman ... Then one who had escaped came and told Abram ... that his kinsman had been taken captive, Abram led forth his trained men ... He brought back all the goods, and Lot with his goods and people." Reclaiming what had been taken: Is there a spiritual message here? The enemy, Satan, has taken us away from God, Jesus comes to set us free from Satan's hold over us. When we see people wandering away from the Lord, let's not give up on them. In love, the Lord is reaching out to them, calling them to come back home to Him.
On the way back from the battle, in which he reclaimed Lot, Abram receives a visitor - Melchizedek: "Melchizedek .... brought bread and wine and blessed Abram." We read these words about Melchizedek, and we think of Jesus, our Saviour. In Hebrews 7, we read about Melchizedek - "See how great he is." These words describe Melchizedek. They also describe Jesus.
"Your own son shall be your heir." This is what the Lord said to Abram. Abram did not wait  for God to fulfil His promise.He took things into his own hands. A child was born, but he was not the child whom God had promised. Note the result of Abram's unbelief. Hagar, the child's mother, had "contempt" on Sarai, Abram's wife. This is a story of sin, shame, strife and sadness.
"My covenant is with you" - Abram failed God, but God didn't fail Abram. The covenant came from God, but, for Abram, there were covenant responsibilities: "Walk before Me, and be blameless." Despite God's renewal of His covenant, Abram was still full of unbelief. He needed to be assured of this: what man cannot do, God does. Again, God gives His promise. Again, there is laughter - this time, from Sarah. God responds with a question: "Is anything too hard for the Lord?  
Abraham was chosen for blessing and for holiness. Abraham prays for Sodom. God is willing to be merciful, but, still, the people of Sodom continue in their wicked ways. They were prayed for, but they did not repent. "The heart of man is deceitful and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9).
Sodom and Gomorrah are brought to nothing. This is the judgment of God. lot's wife could have been rescued, but she "looked back." Her heart was in Sodom and Gomorrah. She was lost. Still, there is sin and shame in Lot's family.
One thing leads to another. Here, we read of Lot's drunkenness - and incest. "Both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. The first-born son ... Moab ... is the father of the Moabites to this day." To this day - sin has far-reaching consequences.
"God has made laughter for me", said Sarah. This is what Sarah said at the time of the birth of her son, Isaac. this was a different kind of laughter. The child was given by the Lord - and so was the laughter.
"I will make a nation of Hagar's son also." This is common grace. Even for those who are wandering in the wilderness, there is grace. Even when it seems like there is no hope, God does not forget His promise of blessing. God said that He would bless Ishmael, and He did bless him.
"Ishmael's mother, Hagar, took a wife for him from the land of Egypt." Knowing what we do about Egypt, from the book of Exodus, we fear for the future of Ishmael and his descendants.
The testing of Abraham: Abraham loved Isaac, Isaac had been given to him by God. This would be a great sacrifice. "God will provide a lamb." This directs our thoughts forward to God, providing His Son, Jesus, as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" (John 1:29). Isaac was spared. He was not to be a sacrifice for sin. He was to be a link in the chain that led to Jesus, the \Lamb of God, the perfect Sacrifice for sin.
The servant is sent to find a wife for Isaac. He prays for God's guidance, He is led to Rebekah. Knowing what we know, from the rest of the story, we know that this marriage was not plain sailing. Rebekah favoured one son - Jacob - over the other son - Esau. Isaac favoured Esau over Jacob. We know that the conflict between the two sons had been prophesied at the time of their birth, but we still have to say that Rebekah and Isaac did not set a good example for other parents to follow. "Isaac loved Esau" and "Rebekah loved Jacob - this was not a good recipe for a happy home. Later on, in Scripture, this division between Jacob and Esau is seen in terms of God's purpose (see Malachi 1 and Romans 9). This places Rebekah on the side of God, and Isaac on the other side. Having said this, we must state clearly that the methods used by Rebekah to achieve her goal were deceptive. At the time of his birth, Isaac was regarded as being the one who fulfils God's promise, As it turns out, he fulfilled God's promise for the next generation, only by being deceived into doing so.

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