Archive for : January, 2018

01/31/2018 — Exodus Chapters 4-6

So many events to discuss in these chapters that we could spend weeks!  But I wanted to focus on an event that perplexed me on first reading.  Exodus 4:24-26 states:

24 At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. 25 But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. 26 So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)

What puzzled me — after all of His instructions to Moses why was the Lord about to kill him?  I read several commentaries on these verses.

Based on the reality that Mose’s wife Zipporah lived in a pagan culture (her father was even a pagan priest) the one I feel that is most acceptable is by James Burton Coffman:  It is by far the prevailing opinion among scholars that all that could be meant by this is that God had sent an especially dangerous illness upon Moses as punishment for his neglected circumcision of one of his sons. As most suppose, Moses, out of deference to the wishes of Zipporah had neglected circumcising Eliezer. As Jamieson noted, “To dishonor that sign and seal of the covenant was criminal in any Hebrew, especially in one called to be the leader and deliverer of the nation

It is obvious that the Lord intended the leader of the people to comply fully with His law & that there were no excuses for not doing so.

1/30/2018 Exodus Chapters 1-3

Obviously as we begin our reading of Exodus (definition: a going or marching out) we need to remember that the second book of the Torah is the continuation of the first book, Genesis.

And we need to consider the time frame.  The events of Exodus occurred 430 years after the end of Genesis.  If we put this time frame in perspective for our history:       the Israelites would have been in Egypt since roughly 1588 (or about 32 years before the Pilgrims arrived in America …)

Just think of all the changes the Israelites had seen and undergone in Egypt during that 430 year time period …  I believe this is one of the greatest challenges Moses faced — the Nation had lost their focus.

1/29/2018 — Genesis Chapters 48 – 50

As we come to the end of Genesis what struck me in these last chapters is that the chapters present a combination — a combination of the history of an earthly family & God’s eternal plan.  The history of the earthly family of Jacob and Joseph is complete with all of the emotions we face —  deaths, births, and the joy of blessings.

And throughout all of these emotions we see God’s plan unfolding as stated in some of the final words of Joseph in Genesis 50:24:

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die. But God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”

 

1/28/2018 – Genesis Chapters 46-47

I always marvel at the reality that the Lord is not limited as we are by the concept of “time.”   We see this in Genesis 46:3-4 in the promise the Lord makes to Jacob.

“I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”

Of course history tells us that it was roughly 400 years before the nation of Israel was lead out of Egypt by Moses.

But the Lord fulfilled this promise just as He will fulfill every promise He has given us.

1/27/2018 — Genesis Chapters 43-45

I see two marvelous examples for us in Chapter 45 — first, forgiveness and second, a recognition of God’s will and His plan.

In verses 4-5  we see Joseph forgive his brothers & a statement of Joseph’s recognition of God’s will in all of their lives:

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.

And again in vv. 7-8 we see Joseph more fully discuss his recognition of how all the challenges and hardships in his life have been part of God’s plan for an entire nation.

But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.  “So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt

The example for us is evident.  When all is not going according to our plan can we separate ourselves from the emotions of the struggle and reflect on how the struggle could be a part of God’s greater plan?

1/26/2018 – Genesis Chapters 41-42

Now, admit it — you really enjoy a good story full of irony.  Like Les Miserable where the “thief” becomes the moral compass of the nation?  Or Helen Keller where the most severely challenged person becomes a leader of a movement?  Or of course Super Bowl XXXVI (2002) where the underdog Patriots beat the heavily favored “greatest show on turf” St. Louis Rams?

I think that is why Chapters 41-42 are favored Bible readings.  We see the slave Joseph become, essentially, the most power man in the most powerful nation of that time.  AND he is able to interact with the brothers who sold him into slavery.  If anyone ever states to you how absurd this is or asks how this could ever happen we only need to delve into two answers Joseph gives Pharaoh:

Genesis 41: 15-16:  15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” 16 I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

Genesis 41:25:  25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do.

Point to Ponder:  Do we follow Joseph’s example when we are successful and give the glory to the only true source — the Lord God Almighty?

 

 

1/25/2018 Genesis Chapters 38-40

So, in the midst of the history of Joseph we have a bit of an “interlude,” the  life of Judah in Canaan.  But this interlude provides an additional insight into the immorality present during this time & another example of the faithfulness of the Lord to His people.

After Joseph is sold into slavery we see Judah leave his other brothers and father and move to Adullam, a town in Canaan.  So, not only has Jacob now “lost” Joseph he has lost Judah.  Chapter 38 provides the summary of Judah’s life in Adullam.  A life that has more twists and turns than an episode of the old soap opera “Dallas,” complete with sudden deaths, treachery, sexual immorality and the birth of several sons.  The final two mentioned are twins whose births are the results of the deception of Judah’s own daughter-in-law and Judah’s immorality.  The twins are Zerah and Perez.

Again, the names sometimes appear to be just a small detail.  But one commentator highlighted “Perez” and then referenced Matthew 1:3 and Luke 3:33.

 

Take a look at these passages and the continued lineage.  You will see that out of all of this corruption God’s promise is continuing to be fulfilled.  He is going to accomplish what He has promised us often in spite of us.

1/24/2018 Genesis Chapters 35-37

I must admit that often when I read genealogies I kinda “skip” their meaning.  But they would not be written in the inspired word of God if they were not important to our understanding of God’s plan.  For example Genesis 35:22-26 lists Jacobs sons:

Jacob had twelve sons:23 The sons of Leah: Reuben the firstborn of Jacob, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. 24 The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin.25 The sons of Rachel’s servant Bilhah:Dan and Naphtali.26 The sons of Leah’s servant Zilpah:Gad and Asher.These were the sons of Jacob, who were born to him in Paddan Aram

Why is this listing important?  Well, it gives us insight into a verse in Chapter 37:3 — Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him.

This takes us all the way back to Chapter 29:30 where we see that Jacob’s “love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah.”   So, Jacob favored Joseph not only because he was born to him in his “old age” but he was also the son of his first love, Rachel.

 

1/23/2018 Genesis Chapters 32-34

How often do we make plans for “the worst” only to find out that we are truly blessed if we remain within God’s will?  This thought came to my mind as I read Genesis Chapter 32 & 33 as Jacob prepared for and met his brother Esau.

I can only envision the effort that it took to gather “4 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys.”

And yet we see that when Jacob met Esau all of this effort was not needed — Esau met him with open arms & did not even desire the gifts.   While there is nothing wrong in “planning”  like Jacob do we sometime “plan” and not “trust in the Lord?”

1/22/18 Genesis Chapters 30-31

As we read these passages we see an example of one of our greatest challenges — envy.  In Chapter 30 we see that Rachel envied her sister Leah for the children she bore to Jacob while Rachel had none.   And, instead of loving her sister’s children we see Rachel take drastic actions to try to “catch up” & ensure that her “children” (even born of her servant, Bilhah) would be descendants of Jacob.

Our lesson — guard our thoughts and our motives — do not allow envy to control our actions.

 

 

 

1/21/2018 Genesis Chapters 27-29

I think we are all familiar with “Jacob’s Ladder” from the old Negro spiritual we often sang as children.   But do we reflect on when Jacob’s ladder appeared?

Reading back in Chapter 27:42-43 we see that Jacob was on his journey not to “sight-see” but to escape from the murderous plot of his brother, Esau.  As we will continue to see in many of our readings, the Lord is present at all times but it is at times of stress and trial that even the Patriarchs see the need to reach out to Him.

 

 

1/20/2018 Genesis Chapters 25-26

As we read these passages do you see a “lesson learned” by Isaac from his father, Abraham? (& not necessarily a good lesson.)

Yes, in Chapter 26:7-9 we see Isaac tell Abimelek, king of the Philistines, that Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, is his sister.  This is just like what Abram did twice with Sara.  And, yet the Lord continued to bless Isaac just as he has blessed Abraham.

So, my question — why does the Lord continue to bless these imperfect men?  My answer is similar to Job’s — I do not know the ways of the Lord. 

But I am comforted by the reality that even as an imperfect person if I am faithful I can be used in my imperfection to serve the Lord.

 

 

1/19/2018 Genesis Chapters 22-24

What a full range of emotions these chapters deliver.  Abraham’s devastation and then elation at the planned sacrifice of and subsequent salvation of Isaac; Abraham’s sorrow at the death of Sarah (Chapter 23:2😉 the love of Isaac for Rebekah & the comfort Rebekah brings Isaac after the death of Sarah (Chapter 24:67).

And among all of these human emotions throughout these chapters we see God’s plan for the nation of Israel unfold.  My application for us — we will also have emotions associated with events in our lives.  Emotions are certainly an appropriate response for the different occasions we face.

But we must also recognize that while our emotions will change — the Lord’s plan  continues to work steadily and unwaveringly  through these events.

 

 

1/18/2018 Chapters Genesis 19-21

Wow — in these passages so much to consider — the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abimilek & Sarah, the birth of Isaac.  Once again I would like to focus on an event that eventually caused the entire nation of Israel to suffer.

In Genesis 19:33-38 we see Lot’s daughters sinister plot that resulted in the birth of two sons fathered by their father, Lot.   Verses 37-38 tell us that the eldest daughter’s son became the father of the Moabites and the youngest daughter’s son the father of the Ammonites.  Both nations became bitter enemies & persecutors of Israel.

Just as with Ishmael the sins of the moment by Job’s daughters resulted in future agony and persecution of the nation of Israel.

Let us reflect on our need to remain faithful!

 

 

1/17/2018 Genesis Chapter 16-18

It is certainly proper to focus on Abram and his covenant with God as the father of the Israelites.  However, as I read this time I was taken also be the prophecy regarding Ishmael.  First – note that the Lord did not establish a covenant but offered a prophecy and made a promise.  In Genesis 16:11-12 the angel of the Lord prophesied to Hagar

“You are now pregnant
    and you will give birth to a son.
You shall name him Ishmael,
    for the Lord has heard of your misery.
12 He will be a wild donkey of a man;
    his hand will be against everyone
    and everyone’s hand against him,
and he will live in hostility
    toward all his brothers.”

Then in Genesis 17:20 the Lord Promised:

And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.

In Genesis 25 we will read of Ishmael and his 12 sons.  And we will see that they “lived in hostility towards all their brothers.”  Indeed the Ishmaelites were constant “thorns in the side” of Israel, fulfilling the angel’s prophecy.

My thoughts — how often do we fail to take under consideration the future results of actions we may take that are outside of God’s will?

1/16/2018 Genesis Chapters 12-15

So, our chronological reading shifts from the events of Job back to the patriarchs.  All scripture is inspired and important for study.  But I do enjoy reading the more “historical-event” books as they read like a non-fiction novel. As we go through the events of the Patriarchs there will be many verses we can comment on.  In these chapters there are two in particular that caught my eye.

In Genesis 12:4 we see Abram leave “as the Lord had told him.”  Abram was already a very prosperous and wealthy man, so why leave, especially since he had not yet been told where he was going?  The answer — his faith in what the Lord will provide.

The second is in Genesis 15:13-14 where we see the omniscience of God.  The Lord’s promise of freedom from the Egyptians is foretold.

13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.

1/15/2018 Job Chapters 40-42

If you are like me and feel a bit like you have had to “plug” through the first 37 chapters the final five  (38-42) are certainly worth the effort!  And what an encouragement these final chapters are.

In Job 40:4-5 I think Job is feeling “Wow, I am glad this questioning is over.”  But then we see the Lord continue to teach Job about who HE is.  And in Chapter 42:2-3  we see Job acknowledge that he “gets it.”

2 “I know that you can do all things;
    no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
    Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
    things too wonderful for me to know.

Now, in applying the truth f God’s word in Job to my life I am pretty sure it was Artie who taught a lesson on Job on ending it with this paraphrased summary of the entire 42 chapters:  “Job, I am GOD and you will just have to trust me .  The complexity of it all is just too much.”

1/14/2018 Job 38-39

All I can ever do when I read these verses is to just be filled with awe at the power and magnificence of the Lord.  Every verse is wonderfully crafted and inspirational.  I can envision Job just standing with his mouth open in silence and listening.  Of all of these verses one verse intrigues me – Job 38:33. “Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?

As many of you know I am fascinated with science, both the study of very large (the cosmos) and the infinitesimally small (the atom.)   So, I realize that the answer to the Lord’s question now is the same as it was for Job.  “No, we do not know the laws of heaven.”

In fact reconciling the “physical laws of the heavens” with the “physical laws of the atom” is one of sciences greatest questions.  I do not think we should ever stop asking the question.  But when I am asked for a personal comment I return to Job 38:33 and know that the answer remains & will remain “No.”  God is God and we are not …

 

1/13/2018 Job Chapters 35-37

In these chapters I find a foreshadowing of the Lords message spoken directly to Job that we will read in Chapters 38-41.  Elihu certainly recognizes & describes the omnipotence and power of God.

He also offers us an important lesson in just a few verses when in verses 35:9-11 he states:

“People cry out under a load of oppression;
    they plead for relief from the arm of the powerful.
10 But no one says, ‘Where is God my Maker,
    who gives songs in the night,
11 who teaches us more than he teaches the beasts of the earth
    and makes us wiser than the birds in the sky?

Do we only “cry out to the Lord” when we are under duress and fail to engage Him in prayer when all is well?

1/12/2018 Job Chapter 32-34

Well, in Chapter 32 we see the entry of the “young whipper-snapper” on the scene, Elihu.  Like Jpb’s other friends his “theology” is wrong in saying that Job is being punished for being sinful. But he does state soundly a warning that I think I need to hear in Chapter 32:9 “It is not only the old who are wise, nor only the aged who understand what is right.

The meaning to me is that we must never “rest” on our own wisdom and be open to the counsel of others, always weighing the advice vs. the Word of God.