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PARAMPITA KI HUM STUTI GAYE WO HI HAI JO BACHATA HAME (HINDI CHRISTIAN DEVOTIONAL SONG)

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ISRAELITES (FREE AT LAST)

           afternoon-ancient-architecture-794912  THE SLAVES IN EGYPT GET A LIBERATOR

THE LORD SAID,”I HAVE INDEED SEEN THE MISERY OF MY PEOPLE IN EGYPT. I HAVE HEARD THEM CRYING OUT BECAUSE OF THEIR SLAVE DRIVERS, AND I AM CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR SUFFERING. (EXODUS 3:7)

          NOTHING STIRS A NATION’S BLOOD LIKE A LIBERATOR. INDIA CALLED AN INSIGNIFICANT LITTLE MAN NAMED GANDHI “MAHATMA” (OR “THE GREAT ONE”) FOR LEADING HIS PEOPLE TO FREEDOM. SOUTH AMERICA MEMORIALIZES SIMON BOLIVAR. FOR THE JEWS, ONE LIBERATOR NAMED MOSES ACCOMPLISHED WHAT ALL THESE DID—AND MORE.

          THE BIBLE DEVOTES ONE-EIGHTH OF ITS PAGES TO THE STORY OF MOSES’ TIME (A BULK OF MATERIAL TWO-THIRDS THE LENGTH OF THE ENTIRE NEW TESTAMENT). AND WHEN JESUS CAME AS THE GREAT LIBERATOR WHO SET ALL HUMANITY FREE, THE NEW TESTAMENT REACHED BACK TO MOSES FOR A COMPARISON                        (HEBREWS 3:1-6).

BONDAGE IN EGYPT

          THE TIME WAS RIPE FOR A LIBERATOR. GENESIS CLOSED WITH JACOB’S FAMILY OF 70 MOVING TO EGYPT. BUT IN THE OPENING SCENE OF EXODUS, 350 YEARS LATER, HUNDRED OF THOUSANDS OF THEIR ANCESTORS WERE TOILING ON PHARAOH’S HUGE CONSTRUCTION PROJECT—NOT AS GUEST BUT AS SLAVES.

          ONE PARTICULARLY RUTHLESS PHARAOH ORDERED THE MURDER OF ALL MALE JEWISH BABIES, UNWITTINGLY SETTING THE STAGE FOR ONE OF THE GREAT IRONIES OF HISTORY. MOSES’ PARENTS HID HIM IN A WATERTIGHT BASKET AMONG THE GRASSES OF A SWAMP. THERE, THE TINY BABY CAUGHT THE EYE OF PHARAOH’S DAUGHTER. THE VERY EDICT INTENDED TO DESTROY THE JEWS LED TO THEIR DELIVERANCE.

          ADOPTED INTO THE PLACE, MOSES GOT THE BENEFIT OF A SUPERB CLASSICAL EDUCATION. HIS EGYPTIAN UPBRINGING WAS BALANCED BY JEWISH NURTURE: IN ANOTHER STRIKING IRONY, THE PHARAOH’S DAUGHTER PAID MOSES’ OWN MOTHER TO NURSE HIM. THE SON OF SLAVES, YET BROUGHT UP IN THE SEAT OF POWER, MOSES PREPARED FOR HIS EVENTUAL GOAL OF MAKING A NATION OUT OF A DISORGANIZED BAND OF CAPTIVES.

          HIS CAREER HAD TO WAIT, THOUGH, FOR A PERIOD OF HUMBLING IN THE DESERT. MOSES FLED EGYPT AS A BRASH, SELF CONFIDENT MAN WHO LIKED TO TAKE MATTERS INTO HIS OWN HANDS. FORTY YEARS LATER HE RELUCTANTLY RETURNED, WITH LITTLE BESIDES A STICK AND A DONKEY.

FREE AT LAST

          THE JEWS HAD ENDURED NEARLY FOUR CENTURIES OF OPPRESSION BEFORE THEY WERE LIBERATED. SO FAR AS WE KNOW, DURING THOSE YEARS THEY RECEIVED NO DIRECT COMMUNICATION FROM HEAVEN. SURELY GOD MUST HAVE SEEMED SILENT.

          MOSES FACED A FORMIDABLE CHALLENGE. SOMEHOW HE HAD TO EARN THE TRUST OF THE SLAVES AND INSPIRE HOPE IN THEM SO THAT THEY COULD INDEED THROW OFF THEIR CHAINS. HE HAD TO PROVE THAT GOD HAD NOT FORGOTTEN THEM. WHEN THE TIME WAS RIGHT, GOD UNLEASHED A SPECTACLE OF MIGHT AND POWER THAT BROUGHT A CRUEL PHARAOH TO HIS KNEES—AND CONVINCED THE ISRAELITES THAT GOD REALLY DID CARE FOR THEM.

          GOD USED MOSES IN REMARKABLE WAYS. HE WAS THE FIRST PERSON RECORDED IN THE BIBLE TO WORK MIRACLES. HE MET GOD IN INTIMATE WAYS GRANTED NO OTHER HUMAN. HE HAD A HAND IN THE AUTHORSHIP OF A GOOD PORTION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT. BUT IN JEWISH HISTORY HE EARNED A PLACE PRIMARILY AS A LIBERATOR. HE LED THE MARCH FROM SLAVERY TO FREEDOM, FROM EGYPT TO THE PROMISED LAND.

 

 

BOLO JAI MILKAR JAI BOLO JAI YESHU KI JAI (HINDI CHRISTIAN DEVOTIONAL SONG)

GOD’S PLAN FOR JOSEPH

architecture-bahai-gardens-buildings-190339“HERE COMES THAT DREAMER!” THEY SAID TO EACH OTHER. “COME NOW, LET’S KILL HIM.” (GENESIS 37:19)    

          JOSEPH’S STORY IS THE LAST OF THE BROTHERLY BATTLES OF GENESIS. CAIN AND ABEL, ISAAC AND ISHMAEL, JACOB AND ESAU ALL QUARRELED. JOSEPH SET HIS 11 BROTHERS AGAINST HIM BY TELLING HIS DREAM OF THEIR BOWING DOWN TO HIM. HE WAS HIS FATHER’S FAVORITE AND PERHAPS FLAUNTED IT. SO WHEN HIS BROTHERS GOT A CHANCE, THEY PAID HIM BACK. THEY SOLD HIM AS A SLAVE TO TRAVELLING MERCHANTS, WHO TOOK HIM TO EGYPT. NEVER EXPECTING TO SEE HIM AGAIN, THEY MADE UP A STORY THAT HE HAD BEEN KILLED BY WILD ANIMALS.

          GOD HAD OTHER PLANS. IN EGYPT, HE GAVE JOSEPH THE INTERPRETATION TO SEVERAL DREAMS. IT WAS A TICKET TO PROMINENCE. EGYPTIANS OF THAT DAY WERE FASCINATED BY DREAMS: ARCHAEOLOGISTS HAVE UNCOVERED LENGTHY TEXTBOOKS ON DREAM INTERPRETATION. JOSEPH SOON FOUND HIMSELF AT THE TOP OF PHARAOH’S GOVERNMENT.

          BUT SUCCESS WAS NOT ENOUGH. THE BIBLE STORY GOES ON FROM THERE, FOR GOD WANTED FORGIVENESS WITHIN THE FAMILY. A FAMINE MADE JOSEPH’S BROTHERS MOVE OUT OF PALESTINE; THEY CAME TO EGYPT LOOKING FOR FOOD. KNEELING BEFORE JOSEPH—SO EGYPTIAN BY NOW THAT THEY DID NOT RECOGNIZE HIM—THEY BEGGED FOR THE RIGHT TO BUY FOOD.

A STRANGE STRUGGLE

          SO BEGAN ONE OF THE STRANGEST STRUGGLES OF THE BIBLE. JOSEPH COULD HAVE MADE UP WITH HIS BROTHERS ON THE SPOT, WELCOMING THEM WITH OPEN ARMS. OR HE COULD HAVE TAKEN REVENGE, PUTTING THEM TO DEATH. HE DID NEITHER. HE BEGAN A SERIES OF ELABORATE TESTS, DEMANDING THINGS FROM THEM, PLAYING TRICKS ON THEM, ACCUSING THEM. FOR NEARLY TWO YEARS HE PLAYED THESE GAMES. THEY BROUGHT CONFUSION AND FEAR TO HIS BROTHERS— AND AN ADMISSION OF GUILT.

          TWENTY YEARS HAD NOT ERASED THE BROTHER’S MEMORY OF JOSEPH. THE MOMENT THEIR TROUBLES BEGAN, THEIR GUILT SURFACED. “THEY SAID TO ONE ANOTHER, ‘SURELY WE ARE BEING PUNISHED BECAUSE OF OUR BROTHER. WE SAW HOW DISTRESSED HE WAS WHEN HE PLEADED WITH US FOR HIS LIFE, BUT WE WOULD NOT LISTEN’ ” (GENESIS 42:21). FOR JOSEPH, THE DRAMA BROUGHT TREMENDOUS EMOTIONAL STRAIN. FIVE TIMES GENESIS RECORDS THAT HE BROKE INTO YEARS, ONCE WEEPING SO LOUDLY THAT PEOPLE IN THE NEXT ROOM HEARD HIM.

          JOSEPH FELT THE STRAIN OF FORGIVENESS. HE WANTED TO RECONCILE WITH HIS BROTHERS, WHOM HE LOVED, BUT IT WAS NOT EASY. AND UNTIL THEY HAD BEEN PUSHED TO THE POINT OF ADMITTING AND ACCEPTING THEIR GUILT, RECONCILIATION COULD NOT OCCUR. THEIR SINS HAD PLANTED DEEP-ROOTED BITTERNESS, AND ONLY AN EMOTIONALLY WRENCHING STRUGGLE COULD PULL IT OUT.

SEEDS OF BITTERNESS

          IN THIS SENSE JOSEPH’S STORY IS THE STORY OF GOD AND HIS PEOPLE—THE STRUGGLE TO ROOT OUT THE SIN THAT BEGAN IN GENESIS 3. IT DOES NOT HAPPEN AUTOMATICALLY OR EASILY. ULTIMATELY, IT DEMANDED THE DEATH OF GOD’S SON.

          JOSEPH’S STORY POINTS TOWARD JESUS—A MAN GOD SENT TO SAVE HIS PEOPLE, WHO WAS HATED AND BETRAYED BY THEM JUST AS JOSEPH WAS. BUT GOD’S WILL TO SAVE CONQUERS ALL. AS JOSEPH TOLD HIS BROTHERS, “YOU INTENDED TO HARM ME, BUT GOD INTENDED IT FOR GOOD ACCOMPLISH…..THE SAVING OF MANY LIVES”      (GENESIS 50:20).

THE BIRTH OF A NATION

          JOSEPH CLOSES ONE CHAPTER IN THE STORY OF ISRAEL. THE CHILDREN OF ABRAHAM WERE TRANSFORMED FROM A CHAIN OF INDIVIDUALS TO A NATION. GOD DID NOT CHOOSE JOSEPH OVER HIS BROTHERS, AS HE DID ABRAHAM OVER LOT, ISAAC OVER ISHMAEL, JACOB  OVER ESAU. THE BROTHERS’ RECONCILIATION OPENED THE WAY FOR THEM TO BECOME ONE FAMILY OF 12 TRIBES—A SINGLE NATION.

          BUT STORY LEADS ON. PROSPEROUS AND NUMEROUS THOUGH THE 12 HAD BECOME, THEY STILL HAD NO LAND. AND SO GENESIS ENDS HAPPILY, BUT ON A NOTE OF SUSPENSE: WHEN WILL JOSEPH’S BONES GO BACK TO THE LAND GOD PROMISED? WHEN WILL GOD’S PROMISES BE FULFILLED?

LIFE QUESTIONS: HAVE YOU EVER FOUGHT HARD WITH A PERSON CLOSE TO YOU, AND THEN EXPERIENCED RECONCILIATION? WHAT PROCESS DID YOU GO THROUGH?

WOMEN (ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE)

beautiful-blur-bridal-256737THE MAN SAID,”THIS IS NOW BONE OF MY BONES AND FLESH OF MY FLESH; SHE SHALL BE CALLED ‘WOMAN,’ FOR SHE WAS TAKEN OUT OF MAN.” GENESIS 2:23

DOWN THROUGH THE CENTURIES WOMEN HAVE OFTEN BEEN MALTREATED AND HAVE OCCUPIED A LOW ROLE IN SOCIETY. IN COUNTRIES WHERE THE DOWRY SYSTEM IS STILL IN EFFECT THE BIRTH OF A DAUGHTER CAN CREATE A DREADED FINANCIAL BURDEN FOR POOR PARENTS. OFTEN A BRIDE BECOMES LITTLE MORE THAN A SERVANT TO HER HUSBAND. WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH US ABOUT THE ROLE AND NATURE OF WOMEN?

MAN’S COMPANION

THE BOOK OF GENESIS TELLS US THAT THE WOMEN WAS MADE AFTER ADAM THE MAN, TO BE A COMPANION OR FRIEND OR HELPER TO MAN. THE WORD “HELPER” DOES NOT MEAN THAT IN ANY WAY SHE IS INFERIOR TO, OR THE SERVANT OF, MAN. THE BIBLE CLEARLY SHOWS US THAT THE MAN IS TO CARE FOR WOMAN AS HE CARES FOR HIS OWN BODY. PAUL, ONE OF THE NEW TESTAMENT WRITERS, OUTS IT THIS WAY: “HUSBANDS, LOVE TOUR WIVES, JUST AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH AND GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR HER TO MAKE HER HOLY……IN THIS SAME WAY, HUSBANDS OUGHT TO LOVE THEIR OWN BODIES. HE WHO LOVES HIS WIFE LOVES HIMSELF. AFTER ALL, NO ONE EVER HATED HIS BODY, BUT HE FEEDS AND CARES FOR IT,  JUST AS CHRIST DOES THE CHURCH” (EPHESIANS 5:25-29). THIS COMMAND SAYS THAT THE FIRST REQUIREMENT OF A MAN IS TO CARE FOR HIS WIFE, TO LOVE HER, TO TREAT HER WITH KINDNESS AND TENDERNESS. THE MAN IS TO PROVIDE FOR THE WIFE AS HE PROVIDES FOR HIS OWN BODY.

GOD GAVE A SPECIFIC COMMAND TO MAN WHEN HE CREATED WOMAN, A COMMAND THAT IS OFTEN IGNORED BY MANY PEOPLE. “FOR THIS REASON A MAN WILL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE UNITED TO HIS WIFE, AND THEY WILL BECOME ONE FLESH” ( GENESIS 2:24)

CARING FOR EACH OTHER

IN RETURN FOR THE CARE AND PROTECTION GIVEN BY THE HUSBAND, THE WIFE IS TO HELP THE HUSBAND IN EVERY WAY THAT IS LAWFUL. SHE IS TO GIVE HERSELF TO HIM, EVEN AS HE GIVES HIMSELF TO HER. SHE IS TO SUBMIT TO HIM AS THE AUTHORITY IN THE HOME. “WIVES, SUBMIT TO YOUR HUSBANDS AS TO THE LORD. FOR THE HUSBAND IS THE HEAD OF THE WIFE AS CHRIST IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH, HIS BODY, OF WHICH HE IS THE SAVIOR. NOW AS THE CHURCH SUBMITS TO CHRIST, SO ALSO WIVES SHOULD SUBMIT TO THEIR HUSBANDS IN EVERYTHING” (EPHESIANS 5:22-24). THE ROLE OF THE WIFE IS TO MAKE THE LIFE OF THE HUSBAND MORE ENJOYABLE, EASIER. HE CARES FOR HER, AND IN RETURN SHE IS TO CARE FOR HIM. SHE IS TO ENCOURAGE HIM, DEFEND HIM, LIFT HIM UP IN THE EYES OF ALL HER RELATIVES AND FRIENDS. SHE IS TO HONOR HIS DECISIONS AND ABIDE BY THEM. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT SHE MAY NOT VOICE HER OPINION OR SUGGEST COUNCIL TO HIM. BUT IT DOES MEAN THAT HIS DECISION IS FINAL. TO OBEY HER HUSBAND IS NO MORE DEMEANING FOR A WIFE THAN IS OBEDIENCE BY THE CHURCH TO CHRIST JESUS.

IN BRINGING MAN AND WOMAN TOGETHER IN THE BONDS OF MARRIAGE, GOD WAS CONCERNED TO PROVIDE A STABLE SOCIETY IN WHICH CHILDREN COULD BE RAISED. MARRIAGE IS AN INSTITUTION, AND IT MUST NEVER BE DESTROYED BY DIVORCE. WHEN TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED, THEY COMMIT THEMSELVES TO EACH OTHER TO UPHOLD EACH OTHER, CARE FOR EACH OTHER, AND TO BE BEST FRIENDS TO EACH OTHER. WHEN THEY FAITHFULLY CARRY OUT THESE TASKS, TRUE LOVE WILL FLOW BETWEEN THEM AND THERE WILL BE MUCH HAPPINESS IN THEIR HOME.

LIFE QUESTIONS: DO YOU BELIEVE THAT MARRIAGE IN YOUR COUNTRY RESEMBLE THE REQUIREMENTS THAT GOD LAYS DOWN FOR MARRIAGE IN THE BIBLE? HOW ARE MARRIAGES TODAY DIFFERENT FROM BIBLICAL MARRIAGES? HOW ARE THEY THE SAME? 

JACOB (DECEITFUL MAN)

 bible-blur-book-267709  THE BIBLE DOESN’T COVER UP JACOB’S SCHEMING

“HE HAS DECEIVED E THESE TWO TIMES: HE TOOK MY BIRTHRIGHT, AND NOW HE’S TAKEN MY BLESSING!”  GENESIS 27:36

THE BIBLE DOES NOT MINCE WORDS IN DESCRIBING JACOB AS A GRASPING, GREEDY MAN. HE TOOK ADVANTAGE OF HIS TWIN BROTHER’S IMPETUOUSNESS TO SWITCH PLACE WITH HIM IN THE FAMILY WILL (25:29-34). LATER, SEEING THAT HIS FATHER STILL FAVOURED ESAU, JACOB (WITH HIS MOTHER) TRICKED THE OLD MAN INTO BLESSING HIM IN PLACE OF HIS BROTHER. (A FATHER’S BLESSING WAS NOT MERELY SYMBOLIC. IT HAD A PERMANENT SIGNIFICANCE, LIKE A SWEARING-IN CEREMONY.)

THE TRICKS BACKFIRE

DRESSED UP IN ESAU’S CLOTHES AND SOME FRESH GOAT SKINS, JACOB FLATLY LIED TO HIS FATHER AND TOOK THE LORD’S NAME IN VAIN. TRUSTING HIS NOSE OVER HIS EARS, FELL FOR IT (27:1-40). YET THE TRICK BACKFIRED. JACOB HAD TO RUN FOR HIS LIFE, AND HE SPENT 20 YEARS IN EXILE WITH HIS UNCLE. UNCLE LABAN GAVE A DOSE OF HIS OWN MEDICINE BY DECEIVING HIM AND REPEATEDLY CHANGING HIS WAGES AS HEAD SHEPHERD.

YOU MIGHT THINK JACOB WOULD LEARN THAT TRICKS AREN’T NICE. YET JACOB DIDN’T NOTICEABLY IMPROVE HIS WAYS. HE MADE A POOR HUSBAND, NEGLECTING ONE OF HIS WIVES AND CREATING RIVALRY. HE FAVORED TWO SONS, SO THAT THE NEGLECTED ONES GREW JEALOUS TO THE POINT OF MURDER. HE CERTAINLY DOESN’T SEEM LIKE CHOICE MATERIAL FOR A RELIGIOUS LEADER.

GOD MAKES THE CHOICE

BUT GOD CHOSE JACOB. HE WAS ALWAYS MAKING THOSE KINDS OF CHOICES, SOMETIMES WITH NO APPARENT REASON  AT ALL. OFTEN HE WENT AGAINST THE TIME-HONORED PRACTICE OF LETTING THE FIRSTBORN SON BE NUMBER ONE, AS HE DID IN CHOOSING NUMBER-TWO SONS ABEL, JACOB, AND EPHRAIM. IN FACT, AN INSPIRED PROPHECY MARKED JACOB AS GOD’S CHOICE BEFORE HE WAS BORN-BEFORE HE HAD DONE A SINGLE THING TO MERIT THE CHOICE.

SO GOD’S CHOICE DID NOT NECESSARILY DEPEND ON HOW A PERSON BEHAVED. GOD CHOSE THE ONE HE WANTED–IT WAS AS SIMPLE AS THAT.

IS THIS FAIR? THAT’S WHAT THE APOSTLE PAUL ASKED IN ROMANS 9. HE CONCLUDED THAT WE HAVE NO RIGHT TO FIND FAULT WITH GOD’S CHOICES, KNOWING AS LITTLE AS WE DO COMPARED TO HIS INFINITE UNDERSTANDING. AND WHILE WE MAY NEVER UNDERSTAND GOD’S CHOICES, WE SHOULD NOTE THAT ALL THE “REJECTED” BROTHERS OF GENESIS–CAIN, CANAAN, ISHMAEL, REUBEN, ESAU, AND MANASSEH–WERE TREATED MORE THAN FAIRLY. THEIR OFFSPRING MULTIPLIED INTO NATIONS UNDER GOD’S PROTECTION.

NO ONE EXCLUDED

FOR HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE, GOD HAD A MUCH GREATER HONOR. GOOD OR BAD, THEY WOULD BE MADE A CHANNEL OF BLESSING FOR THE WHOLE WORLD. HE TOLD ABRAHAM, RIGHT FROM THE BEGINNING, “ALL PEOPLES ON EARTH WILL BE BLESSED THROUGH YOU” (12:3). BY SELECTING A FEW, GOD PLANNED TO EXTEND HIS BLESSING TO ALL. AND THAT IS HOW IT WORKED OUT: ABRAHAM’S SMALL, FAULT-RIDDEN FAMILY GREW INTO A SIZEABLE, FAULT-RIDDEN NATION THAT BROUGHT FORTH, IN THE FULLNESS OF TIME, A FAULTLESS JESUS.

NO WONDER PAUL WROTE THAT WE HAVE NO BUSINESS QUESTIONING THE WISDOM OF GOD. WE MAY NOT SEE WHY HE CHOSE PEOPLE LIKE JACOB. BUT UNQUESTIONABLY, THOSE CHOICES WORKED FOR GOOD–AND THE WHOLE WORLD BECAME ELIGIBLE TO JOIN THE “CHOSEN PEOPLE”. AS PAUL WROTE, “YOU ARE ALL SONS OF GOD THROUGH FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST…..THERE IS NEITHER JEW NOR GREEK, SLAVE NOR FREE, MALE NOR FEMALE, FOR YOU ARE ALL ONE IN CHRIST JESUS. IF YOU BELONG TO CHRIST, THEN YOU ARE ABRAHAM’S SEED” (GALATIANS 3:26,28-29).

LIFE QUESTIONS: WHY DO YOU THINK GOD CHOOSES IMPERFECT PEOPLE LIKE JACOB? WHY DID HE CHOOSE YOU?

 

 

 

 

lord is my savior

PROMISES OF GOD

affection-conceptual-connection-256738 GOD PROMISED TO GIVE ABRAHAM ALL THAT HE LONGED FOR…AND MORE

“THROUGH YOUR OFFSPRING ALL NATIONS ON EARTH WILL BE BLESSED, BECAUSE YOU HAVE OBEYED ME.”   GENESIS 22:18

HUMAN BEINGS HAVEN’T CHANGED MUCH IN 4,000 YEARS.THE LONGING FOR CHILDREN AND THE DESIRE FOR LAND STILL CROP UP WITH SURPRISING EMOTIONAL POWER.

WHEN GOD WANTED ABRAHAM’S ATTENTION, HE PROMISED HIM LAND AND MORE SONS THAN HE COULD COUNT. TO A BABYLONIAN EMIGRANT, 75 YEARS OLD AND CHILDLESS, OWNING NOTHING BUT HIS TENTS AND ANIMALS, THE PROMISES SOUNDED WONDERFUL. IN FACT, THEY SOUNDED IMPOSSIBLE. YET, BECAUSE GOD HIMSELF WAS MAKING THE PROMISE, ABRAHAM “BELIEVED THE LORD, AND HE CREDITED IT TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS” (GENESIS 15:6)

FOR THE GOD WHO HAD CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH, MAKING GOOD ON THE PROMISES WAS AN EASY MATTER. BUT GOD DID NOT MAKE IT EASY FOR ABRAHAM. NOT UNTIL 25 YEARS LATER, WHEN HE WAS 100, DID THE PROMISE OF A SON COME TRUE. THEN, INCREDIBLY, GOD TOLD ABRAHAM TO MAKE A HUMAN SACRIFICE OF HIS LITTLE BOY. IT WAS REALLY ASKING TOO MUCH.

ASTONISHINGLY, ABRAHAM FOLLOWED GOD’S ORDERS. AND GOD GAVE HIM BACK HIS SON.

FAR FROM FULFILLED

WHEN ABRAHAM DIED, GOD’S PROMISES WERE FAR FROM FULLY REALIZED. ABRAHAM HAD ONLY THAT ONE SON TO CLING TO. HIS ONLY LAND WAS A BURIAL PLOT. HE STILL LIVED IN A TENT: HIS ONLY PERMANENT STRUCTURES WERE ALTARS ERECTED TO WORSHIP THE GOD WHO HAD MADE ALL THOSE PROMISES.

GOD, HAVING PROMISED HIM EVERYTHING A MAN OF THAT TIME COULD WANT, APPARENTLY WANTED ABRAHAM TO THINK EVEN BIGGER THOUGHTS. HE HAD SLIPPED SOME WORDS IN ALONG WITH THE PROMISES OF OFFSPRING AND LAND: “ALL PEOPLES ON EARTH WILL BE BLESSED THROUGH YOU” (GENESIS 12:3). GOD WANTED TO BLESS, NOT JUST ABRAHAM, BUT THE WHOLE WORLD. THOUSANDS OF YEARS LATER, IN THE TIME OF JESUS, THE FULL MEANING OF THOSE WORDS BECAME CLEAR (SEE GALATIANS 3:6-9, 16-18).

LIFE QUESTION: WHAT KIND OF PROMISES DOES GOD MAKE TODAY? WHAT LONGING DOES HE FULFILL?

SODOM & GOMORRAH  (CATASTROPHE)

      bosque-car-car-lights-626155 (1)     SODOM: A CITY THAT EARNED DESTRUCTION

“DO YOU HAVE ANYONE ELSE HERE–SONS-IN-LAWS, SONS OR DAUGHTERS, OR ANYONE ELSE IN THE CITY WHO BELONGS TO YOU? GET THEM OUT OF HERE, BECAUSE WE ARE GOING TO DESTROY THIS PLACE.” 19:12-13

SHOULD A CATASTROPHE BE READ AS A PUNISHMENT FROM GOD? DO FLOODS, FAMINES, EARTHQUAKES COME BECAUSE GOD IS ANGRY? THE BIBLE’S ANSWER IS, “SOMETIMES, AND SOMETIMES NOT.” IN GENESIS, SEVERAL CATASTROPHES SEEMED TO “JUST HAPPEN”–THEY WERE NOT A PUNISHMENT OR A WARNING, THOUGH GOD USED THEM TO ADVANCE HIS PLANS. THESE INCLUDED SEVERAL FAMINES SUCH AS THE ONE THAT BROUGHT JOSEPH TO POWER (CHAPTER 41), A WAR (CHAPTER 14), A RAPE  (CHAPTER 34).

            BUT A FEW CATASTROPHES GOD TOOK FULL CREDIT FOR— LIKE THE ONE AT SODOM AND GOMORRAH. AS USUAL, THE BIBLE SHOWS LITTLE OR NO INTEREST IN TELLING US THE SCIENTIFIC FACTS ABOUT THE DESTRUCTION.

GANG RAPE

          SODOM WAS A WRETCHED PLACE. THE WHOLE TOWN SAW THE COMING OF STRANGERS AS A CHANCE FOR HOMOSEXUAL GANG RAPE. SEXUAL VIOLENCE WAS NOT THE TOWN’S ONLY PROBLEM. EZEKIEL 16:49 SAYS THAT SODOM WAS “ARROGANT, OVERFED AND UNCONCERNED; THEY DID NOT HELP THE POOR AND NEEDY.” GOD WOULD HAVE LET THE CITY STAND IF ABRAHAM COULD HAVE LOCATED JUST TEN RIGHTEOUS MEN. APPARENTLY, TEN SUCH PEOPLE DID NOT EXIST. GOD’S GREAT PATIENCE FINALLY RAN OUT.

         YEARS EARLIER, ABRAHAM HAD REFUSED TO ACCEPT EVEN A WELL-EARNED REWARD FROM THE GOVERNMENT OF SODOM (14:21-24). HE WANTED NOTHING TO DO WITH SUCH A SOCIETY. BUT LOT HAD CHOSEN THE PATH OF PROSPERITY, THE EASY AND SUCCESSFUL LIFE ON THE FERTILE PLAIN NEAR SODOM.

           LOT HAD BECOME A SOMEBODY THERE, ONE WHO MADE IMPORTANT DECISIONS IN THE CITY GATEWAY. HE WAS SO ENTANGLED WITH LIFE IN SODOM HE HESITATED TO LEAVE UNTIL IT WAS NEARLY TOO LATE. WHEN SODOM WENT UP IN SMOKE, HIS HARD-EARNED IMPORTANCE DISAPPEARED TOO. THE SHOCK WAS TOO GREAT FOR HIM. UNABLE TO START OVER, HE ENDED UP IN A CAVE, TOO DRUNK TO KNOW THAT HIS TWO DAUGHTERS WERE HAVING SEX WITH HIM. HE IS THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF A MEN WHO, EXCESSIVELY TANGLED IN A CORRUPT SYSTEM, CANNOT BEAR TO LEAVE IT BEHIND.

        JESUS DID NOT LET HIS FOLLOWERS THINK OF SODOM SIMPLY AS “THOSE TERRIBLE PEOPLE.” HE WARNED THEM THAT GOD WOULD BE EVEN HARDER ON THOSE WHO SAW JESUS’ MIRACLES, BUT IGNORE THEM (MATTHEW 11:24). GOD’S PATIENCE HAS A LIMIT.

LIFE QUESTION: ARE ANY CATASTROPHES OF OUR TIME PUNISHMENTS FROM GOD? HOW WOULD YOU KNOW?

FATHER OF NATIONS “ABRAHAM”

city-dark-dawn-248159                           GOD BEGINS TO REBUILD

I WILL MAKE YOU INTO A GREAT NATION AND I WILL BLESS YOU…..AND ALL PEOPLE ON EARTH WILL BLESSED THROUGH YOU.                                                                                                                                                                                      GENESIS 12:2-3

GENESIS CHANGES DRAMATICALLY AT CHAPTER 12. LEAVING THE BIG PICTURE OF MANY, IT SETTLES ON ONE LONELY INDIVIDUAL–NOT A GREAT KING OR A WEALTHY LANDOWNER, BUT A CHILDLESS NOMAD, ABRAHAM. AT GOD’S CALL, ABRAHAM LEFT CIVILIZATION AND SPENT HIS LIFE WANDERING IN THE WILDERNESS. MOVING HIS FLOCKS FROM PLACE TO PLACE, FIGHTING SKIRMISHES AND PITCHED BATTLES WITH HOSTILE LOCAL PEOPLE, ABRAHAM HAD TO BE STRONG TO SURVIVE. BUT THIS HARDLY MADE HIM UNIQUE; LOTS OF STRONG NOMADS WANDERED THE MIDDLE EAST. WHAT MADE THIS PARTICULAR WANDERER SO IMPORTANT?

GOD’S NEW WAY OF WORKING

            ABRAHAM WAS IMPORTANT, FIRST OF ALL, SIMPLY BECAUSE GOD CHOSE HIM. SHORTLY AFTER THE DESTRUCTION OF THE GREAT FLOOD, GOD PICKED ABRAHAM AS THE FOUNDATION OF A NEW HUMANITY. ON SEVERAL REMARKABLE OCCASIONS GOD SPOKE DIRECTLY TO IM, PROMISING TO MAKE HIS FAMILY GREAT IN THE LAND HE WANDERED. THE PROMISES WERE HARD TO BELIEVE: ABRAHAM’S WIFE WAS BARREN, ABRAHAM WAS GETTING TOO OLD TO HAVE CHILDREN, HE OWNED NO LAND AND HAD NO PROSPECT OF ANY. NONETHELESS, GOD ASKED ABRAHAM TO TRUST HIM.

             THE SECOND REASON WHY ABRAHAM MATTERS FOLLOWS FROM THE FIRST: WHEN GOD SPOKE TO HIM, ABRAHAM LISTENED. HE WAS FAR FROM PERFECT. SOMETIMES HE STAYED AWAY FROM THE PATH GOD PUT HIM ON, LYING AND TRYING TO MAKE THE PROMISE WORK OUT IN HIS OWN WAY. YET IN THE DECISIVE MOMENTS OF LIFE, HE LISTENED TO GOD AND OBEYED. HE WAS WILLING TO SACRIFICE ANYTHING FOR GOD EVEN HIS ONLY SON. GOD PUT HIS BRAND ON ABRAHAM, THE MARK OF CIRCUMCISION. HIS DESCENDANTS WERE TO BE FOREVER KNOWN AS “GOD’S PEOPLE.”

UNCENSORED TRUTH

            THE LIFE OD ABRAHAM IS A FASCINATING STORY, TRUE TO LIFE, FULL OF BAD MOMENTS AS WELL AS GOOD. HE WAS HARDLY A THEOLOGIAN; A MORE COMPREHENSIVE UNDERSTANDING OF GOD WOULD HAVE TO WAIT FOR MOSES. BUT ABRAHAM’S FAITH IS THE ROOT OF JUDAISM AND, THUS, CHRISTIANITY. IN HIS ENCOUNTERS WITH GOD WE GET RAW, UNCENSORED TRUTH, NOT RELIGION INVENTED BY A PHILOSOPHER BUT RELIGION AS IT REALLY HAPPENS WHEN GOD MEETS MAN.

          NO WONDER THE NEW TESTAMENT CITES ABRAHAM MORE THAN 80 TIMES, AND PAUL TELLS CHRISTIANS THEY ARE THE TRUE DESCENDANTS OF ABRAHAM (GALATIANS 3:6-9). ABRAHAM’S LIFE BEGAN TO UNFOLD THE STORY OF GOD’S LONG-RANGE PLANS. TWO THOUSAND YEARS LATER, ABRAHAM’S DESCENDANT JESUS CAME TO FILFILL THE PROMISE MADE TO ABRAHAM AND HIS DESCENDENT

LIFE QUESTION : GOD ASKED ABRAHAM TO LEAVE HIS HOME AND FAMILY AND GO TO A FAR-OFF FOREIGN COUNTRY. IF YOU WERE IN HIS PLACE, HOW WOULD YOU HAVE RESPONDED? HAS GOD EVER ASKED ANYTHING HARD OR RISKY OF YOU?

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