Thursday, 27 February 2014
The Generations of Isaac
clear

“Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac” (Genesis 25:5) --his flocks, his donkeys, his slaves, and his covenant with God.  Isaac also inherited both good and bad aspects of his father’s character and passed them on to his sons.  Genesis tells us much less about Isaac than about either his father or his sons; we learn just enough to glimpse his character, how God treated him, and the role he played in the birth of the covenant people.  Read Genesis 25:19-28:9, observing the actions of God and humans.

Genesis 25:19-34

19 These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham fathered Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram,the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. 21 And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22The children struggled together within her, and she said, "If it is thus, why is this happening to me?" So she went to inquire of the LORD. 23 And the LORD said to her, "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger." 24 When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau's heel, so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. 27 When the boys grew up, Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field, while Jacob was a quiet man, dwelling in tents. 28 Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Esau Sells His Birthright

29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. 30And Esau said to Jacob, "Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!" (Therefore his name was called Edom.31 Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright now." 32 Esau said, "I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?" 33 Jacob said, "Swear to me now." So he swore to him andsold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

Genesis 26

1 Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. 2 And the LORD appeared to him and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. 3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. 4 I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws."

Isaac and Abimelech

6 So Isaac settled in Gerar. 7 When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, "She is my sister," for he feared to say, "My wife," thinking, "lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah," because she was attractive in appearance. 8 When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac laughing with Rebekah his wife. 9 So Abimelech called Isaac and said, "Behold, she is your wife. How then could you say, 'She is my sister'?" Isaac said to him, "Because I thought, 'Lest I die because of her.'" 10Abimelech said, "What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us." 11 So Abimelech warned all the people, saying, "Whoever touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death." 12 And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The LORD blessed him, 13 and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy. 14 He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him. 15 (Now the Philistines had stopped and filled with earth all the wells that his father's servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father.) 16 And Abimelech said to Isaac, "Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we." 17 So Isaac departed from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. 18 And Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, which the Philistines had stopped after the death of Abraham. And he gave them the names that his father had given them. 19 But when Isaac's servants dug in the valley and found there a well of spring water, 20 the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen, saying, "The water is ours." So he called the name of the well Esek, because they contended with him. 21 Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that also, so he called its name Sitnah. 22 And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, saying, "For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land." 23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, "I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham's sake." 25So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the LORD and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac's servants dug a well. 26 When Abimelech went to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath his adviser and Phicol the commander of his army, 27 Isaac said to them, "Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?" 28 They said, "We see plainly that the LORD has been with you. So we said, let there be a sworn pact between us, between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you, 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the LORD." 30 So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. 31 In the morning they rose early and exchanged oaths. And Isaac sent them on their way, and they departed from him in peace. 32 That same day Isaac's servants came and told him about the well that they had dug and said to him, "We have found water." 33 He called it Shibah; therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day. 34 When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite to be his wife, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite, 35 and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.

Genesis 27

1 When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, "My son"; and he answered, "Here I am." 2 He said, "Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, 4 and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die." 5 Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, 6Rebekah said to her son Jacob, "I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, 7 'Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the LORD before I die.' 8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. 9 Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. 10 And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies." 11But Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, "Behold, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man. 12 Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing." 13 His mother said to him, "Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my voice, and go, bring them to me." 14 So he went and took them and brought them to his mother, and his mother prepared delicious food, such as his father loved. 15 Then Rebekah took the best garments of Esau her older son, which were with her in the house, and put them on Jacob her younger son. 16 And the skins of the young goats she put on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17 And she put the delicious food and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. 18 So he went in to his father and said, "My father." And he said, "Here I am. Who are you, my son?" 19 Jacob said to his father, "I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me." 20 But Isaac said to his son, "How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?" He answered, "Because the LORD your God granted me success." 21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, "Please come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not." 22 So Jacob went near to Isaac his father, who felt him and said, "The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau." 23 And he did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau's hands. So he blessed him. 24 He said, "Are you really my son Esau?" He answered, "I am." 25 Then he said, "Bring it near to me, that I may eat of my son's game and bless you." So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. 26Then his father Isaac said to him, "Come near and kiss me, my son." 27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said, "See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed! 28 May God give you of the dew of heaven and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine. 29 Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother's sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!" 30 As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting. 31 He also prepared delicious food and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, "Let my father arise and eat of his son's game, that you may bless me." 32 His father Isaac said to him, "Who are you?" He answered, "I am your son, your firstborn, Esau." 33 Then Isaac trembled very violently and said, "Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed." 34 As soon as Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry and said to his father, "Bless me, even me also, O my father!" 35 But he said, "Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing." 36Esau said, "Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has cheated me these two times. He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing." Then he said, "Have you not reserved a blessing for me?" 37 Isaac answered and said to Esau, "Behold, I have made him lord over you, and all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?" 38 Esau said to his father, "Have you but one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father." And Esau lifted up his voice and wept.39 Then Isaac his father answered and said to him: "Behold, away from the fatness of the earth shall your dwelling be, and away from the dew of heaven on high. 40 By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow restless you shall break his yoke from your neck." 41 Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, "The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob." 42 But the words of Esau her older son were told to Rebekah. So she sent and called Jacob her younger son and said to him, "Behold, your brother Esau comforts himself about you by planning to kill you. 43 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice. Arise, flee to Laban my brother in Haran 44 and stay with him a while, until your brother's fury turns away-- 45 until your brother's anger turns away from you, and he forgets what you have done to him. Then I will send and bring you from there. Why should I be bereft of you both in one day?" 46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, "I loathe my life because of the Hittite women.If Jacob marries one of the Hittite women like these, one of the women of the land, what good will my life be to me?"

Genesis 28:1-9

1 Then Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and directed him, "You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women. 2 Arise, go to Paddan-aram to the house of Bethuel your mother's father, and take as your wife from there one of the daughters of Laban your mother's brother. 3 God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. 4May he give the blessing of Abraham to you and to your offspring with you, that you may take possession of the land of your sojournings that God gave to Abraham!" 5 Thus Isaac sent Jacob away. And he went to Paddan-aram, to Laban, the son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob's and Esau's mother.

Esau Marries an Ishmaelite

6 Now Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob and sent him away to Paddan-aram to take a wife from there, and that as he blessed him he directed him, "You must not take a wife from the Canaanite women," 7 and that Jacob had obeyed his father and his mother and gone to Paddan-aram. 8 So when Esau saw that the Canaanite women did not please Isaac his father, 9 Esau went to Ishmael and took as his wife, besides the wives he had, Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham's son, the sister of Nebaioth.

clear
Posted on 02/27/2014 12:17 PM by Larry G
clear
Wednesday, 26 February 2014
The Church Spreads Out
clear

Like Acts 6:7, Acts 9:31 is a summary or progress report.   What does 6:8-9:31 add to the story of Acts?

6:7

7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

9:31

31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.

This passage shows how what Jesus had told his disciples in Acts 1:8 was actually brought about.  It describes the events that precipitate action all along the way.  A good title for this passage might be “1:8 Fulfilled”.  In Chapter 6, we read that the church grew in Jerusalem, in Chapter 9 we are told that it has grown throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria.  It is spreading out.

 

clear
Posted on 02/26/2014 7:20 AM by Larry G
clear
Wednesday, 26 February 2014
God's Wisdom in Separating Peoples
clear

Why did God send all of Abraham’s sons but Isaac away from His covenant people (Genesis 25:6, 18)? 

Genesis 21:9-13

9 Now Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, mocking. 10Therefore she said to Abraham, "Drive out this maid and her son, for the son of this maid shall not be an heir with my son Isaac." 11 The matter distressed Abraham greatly because of his son. 12But God said to Abraham, "Do not be distressed because of the lad and your maid; whatever Sarah tells you, listen to her, for through Isaac your descendants shall be named. 13 "And of the son of the maid I will make a nation also, because he is your descendant." 

Sarah can see that Ishmael does not like Isaac and she foresees trouble for her son, for the family, if Ishmael and Hagar remain in the camp.

Genesis 25:6, 16-18

6 but to the sons of his concubines, Abraham gave gifts while he was still living, and sent them away from his son Isaac eastward, to the land of the east…. 16 These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names, by their villages, and by their camps ; twelve princes according to their tribes. 17 These are the years of the life of Ishmael, one hundred and thirty-seven years ; and he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people. 18 They settled from Havilah to Shur which is east of Egypt as one goes toward Assyria; he settled in defiance of all his relatives.

Abraham sees how antagonistic Ishmael and his family are toward Isaac and in an effort to head off any future trouble, he ensures separation not only between Isaac and Ishmael, but between Isaac and the sons of Keturah and his concubines.

How was this necessary to His plan (Isaiah 60:1-22, Ephesians 2:11-22)?

Isaiah 60:1-22

1 "Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. 2 "For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples ; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you. 3 "Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. 4 "Lift up your eyes round about and see ; They all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, And your daughters will be carried in the arms. 5"Then you will see and be radiant, And your heart will thrill and rejoice ; Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, The wealth of the nations will come to you6 "A multitude of camels will cover you, The young camels of Midian and Ephah ; All those from Sheba will come ; They will bring gold and frankincense, And will bear good news of the praises of the LORD. 7 "All the flocks of Kedar will be gathered together to you, The rams of Nebaioth will minister to you; They will go up with acceptance on My altar, And I shall glorify My glorious house. 8 "Who are these who fly like a cloud And like the doves to their lattices ? 9 "Surely the coastlands will wait for Me; And the ships of Tarshish will come first, To bring your sons from afar, Their silver and their gold with them, For the name of the LORD your God, And for the Holy One of Israel because He has glorified you.10 "Foreigners will build up your walls, And their kings will minister to you; For in My wrath I struck you, And in My favor I have had compassion on you. 11 "Your gates will be open continually; They will not be closed day or night, So that men may bring to you the wealth of the nations, With their kings led in procession. 12 "For the nation and the kingdom which will not serve you will perish, And the nations will be utterly ruined. 13 "The glory of Lebanon will come to you, The juniper, the box tree and the cypress together, To beautify the place of My sanctuary ; And I shall make the place of My feet glorious. 14 "The sons of those who afflicted you will come bowing to you, And all those who despised you will bow themselves at the soles of your feet; And they will call you the city of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. 15 "Whereas you have been forsaken and hated With no one passing through, I will make you an everlasting pride, A joy from generation to generation. 16 "You will also suck the milk of nations And suck the breast of kings ; Then you will know that I, the LORD, am your Savior And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob. 17 "Instead of bronze I will bring gold, And instead of iron I will bring silver, And instead of wood, bronze, And instead of stones, iron. And I will make peace your administrators And righteousness your overseers. 18 "Violence will not be heard again in your land, Nor devastation or destruction within your borders ; But you will call your walls salvation, and your gates praise. 19"No longer will you have the sun for light by day, Nor for brightness will the moon give you light ; But you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, And your God for your glory. 20 "Your sun will no longer set, Nor will your moon wane ; For you will have the LORD for an everlasting light, And the days of your mourning will be over. 21 "Then all your people will be righteous ; They will possess the land forever, The branch of My planting, The work of My hands, That I may be glorified. 22 "The smallest one will become a clan, And the least one a mighty nation. I, the LORD, will hasten it in its time."

This is interesting in that it does not seem that the people of the world are coming to Jerusalem as beaten down, sad people.  Rather it appears that they willing and joyfully come to the city and bring their sacrifices, which appear to be their finest treasures; they do this gladly and while they do this, they also bring good news of the praises of the Lord.  They have praise for the Lord on their lips.  This passage also tells us that those that come will also be sons and daughters of the Lord.  They are the harvest of the planting that the Lord has done world-wide.  God has worked out everything for the best, for the good of all.

Ephesians 2:11-22

11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called " Uncircumcision" by the so-called "Circumcision," which is performed in the flesh by human hands - 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. 17 AND HE CAMEAND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

God has kept us separate as He works out His plan of redemption for mankind.  If He had not separated mankind at Babel, we would surely have destroyed ourselves.  God separated Abraham’s sons, because He knew that their animosity toward each other would have resulted in their destruction.  But the separation ultimately will result in the best not only for the descendants of Isaac, but of all of Abraham’s sons and the entire world.

clear
Posted on 02/26/2014 12:08 PM by Larry G
clear
Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Why were Early Christians willing to Suffer for Jesus' Name?
clear

Why is it important for us to think about the early Christians’ willingness to suffer for Jesus’ name (Acts 5:40-42; 7:59-60; 9:15-16, 23-30)?

5:40-42

40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.

7:59-60

59 While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.

9:15-16, 23-30

15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”….. 23 After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall. 26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30 When the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

  • Jesus/God/The Holy Spirit was empowering them to do what they did
  • You suffer or sacrifice for what you believe in
  • Reproach for Christ is true preferment, as it makes us conformable to his pattern, and serviceable to his interest. They rejoiced in it. If we suffer ill for doing well, provided we suffer it well, and as we should, we ought to rejoice in that grace which enabled us so to do.
  • Saul/Paul had been shown what would happen to him and when it did, it in a way validated what Jesus had told him
  • Beza’s ancient copy, and others; the Vulgate Latin, and Arabic versions read, “for the name of Jesus”; in which name they were forbid to speak, and for speaking in it they were beaten; the Alexandrian copy, and the Syriac version read, “for the name”: that is, for God, for the glory of God, and in the cause of God; (Mvh) , “the name”, is often used in Jewish writings for God: the shame they suffered for him was by being scourged with forty stripes save one; which was reckoned an infamous and ignominious punishment, and which was inflicted on persons guilty of very scandalous crimes F25: but this gave the innocent minds of the apostles no uneasiness; they accounted it an honour conferred on them to be called to suffering for the sake of God and Christ, and in so good a cause; they did what Christ exhorted them to, ( Matthew 5:11 ) which shows they had much of the presence of God, and large measures of grace communicated to them, by which they were supported; and thus cheerfully bore all indignity and reproach, for the name of Christ, which was exceeding dear and precious to them.
clear
Posted on 02/25/2014 7:14 AM by Larry G
clear
Tuesday, 25 February 2014
Preventing the spread of the Canaanite Mindset
clear

Why was it important that Isaac, the child of promise not marry a Canaanite? (See Genesis 9:26.)

Abraham and his family were called out of a life of degradation, immorality and idol worship.  The Canaanites were absolutely up to their necks in this lifestyle.  We are told in 2 Peter 2:7 that Abraham’s nephew Lot, was “distressed” by the lifestyle that he observed daily in Sodom.  Now, keep in mind that Sodom was a Canaanite city; their mindset, their morality, their sexuality is described in Leviticus 18.  Leviticus 18 describes a people who are out of control sexually, who kill their children, who are consumed with homosexuality; and they are a society that practices bestiality.  How do we know this?  Consider what we read in Jude that the people of Sodomy --   went after strange flesh.”  So what are we to think of this?  Not only were they unabashedly engaging in homosexuality and lesbianism, but apparently open sex with animals was probably common. 

Now we know from the book of Jasher, that the people of Sodom participated in mass orgies and celebrations which involved music and sexual activity and involved men openly having intercourse with their neighbors wives and daughters.  Keep in mind that they brought their CHILDREN with them to these city-wide orgies/rockfests, that occurred every four months.  

So what was the effect of this?  Let’s examine what Genesis tells us about the destruction of Sodom and what happened to Lot and his family.  Lot’s son-in-laws are so caught up in the lifestyle that they refuse to leave--and are destroyed.  Lot’s wife is so enamored by the Canaanite lifestyle of Sodom, that she cannot help looking back to Sodom as they are fleeing the city; and she is consequently destroyed.  Then we are told how Lot ends up living in a cave with his two remaining daughters who get him drunk and then deliberately commit incest with their father.  We may be asking ourselves--where did they get the idea to have sex with their father?  Consider the conversation that Lot’s daughters have in Genesis 19:31 -- “Then the first born said to the younger, "Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of the earth.”  What “earth” are they talking about?  They’re talking about the “earth” that they saw as represented by the Canaanite culture of Sodom.  This is what they learned; and this is what they did. 

What is the result of this?  Lot becomes the father of the Ammonite and Moabite peoples, who are savage, ugly people who engage in all of the nasty practices of their Canaanite mothers, including killing their children.  These people also become steadfast enemies of Abraham’s descendants through Isaac, the Jews.  Later on in Genesis we also see that Isaac and his wife Rebekah are totally disgusted with the Canaanite wives of Esau, who apparently didn’t do anything for the welfare of the family.  Why was it necessary for Isaac not to marry a Canaanite woman?  Maybe it was because Abraham’s family would have descended back into the gutter and the Messiah would never have come.

clear
Posted on 02/25/2014 12:00 PM by Larry G
clear
Monday, 24 February 2014
Abraham Stakes His Claim to the Promise Land
clear

In Abraham’s culture, people thought it important to be buried with their ancestors.  Yet Abraham wanted to have Sarah and himself (Genesis 25:7-10) buried in Canaan rather than back in Mesopotamia.  What conviction did Abraham’s choice of a burial site reflect?

Genesis 25:7-10

7 These are the days of the years of Abraham's life, 175 years. 8 Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. 9 Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, east of Mamre, 10 the field that Abraham purchased from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried, with Sarah his wife. 

Genesis 12:6-7

6 Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I WILL GIVE THIS LAND." So he built there an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

Genesis 13:14-15

14 The LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, "Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, 15 for ALL THE LAND THAT YOU SEE I WILL GIVE TO YOU AND TO YOUR OFFSPRING FOREVER

Genesis 15:18-21

18 On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, "TO YOUR OFFSPRING I GIVE THIS LAND, FROM THE RIVER OF EGYPT TO THE GREAT RIVER, THE RIVER EUPHRATES19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites."

Abraham chose to be buried in the land of Canaan, specifically in a plot of land that he had purchased from Ephron, the Hittite.  This is where Sarah was buried.  Now it is important to remember that God had repeated promised Abraham that he and his descendants would ultimately own the land.  He makes the promise when Abraham first arrives in Canaan; He then provides additional details as to the extent of the “promised land” after Abraham and Lot split up; and finally He delineates the actual boundaries of the land that Abraham and his offspring through Isaac would ultimately own.  When Abraham buys this plot of land for his and Sarah’s burial, he is essentially making a statement that he believes that what God has promised, He will fulfill; and Abraham’s actions are another indication that he believes that it’s a “done deal.”  

clear
Posted on 02/24/2014 8:46 AM by Larry G
clear
Friday, 21 February 2014
Barnabas -- Paul's Sponsor
clear

In your opinion were the Jerusalem disciples’ feelings understandable (9:26)?  Why or why not? What does 9:27 show about Barnabas (compare 4:36)?

Acts 9:26

26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.

Of course their feelings were understandable.  This was one of the guys who helped kill Stephen and who was actively persecuting the church.  Apparently, he was the one who started it.

Acts 9:27

27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.

Barnabas personally vouches for the converted Saul; he speaks for him and testifies as to what has happened to convert Saul to a follower of the way.

Acts 4:36

36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement),

He was the type of individual who was willing to give people a second chance.  He didn’t hold their mistakes against them.  Apparently, he was the type of person who brought encouragement to others.

clear
Posted on 02/21/2014 9:34 AM by Larry G
clear
Friday, 21 February 2014
The Sacrifice of Jesus
clear

God provided a ram in place of Isaac (Genesis 22:8, 13-14).  How is Jesus like that ram (John 1:29, 11:49-52)?

Genesis 22:8, 13-14

8 Abraham said, "God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son." So they went both of them together…..13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, "The LORD will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided." 

John 1:29

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

John 11:49-52

49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish." 51He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 

We will all stand before God and be judged.  But on our own, we won’t be able to stand; our sin will prevent us from entering into the Kingdom of Heaven; our sin will prevent us from even wanting to enter. We will be judged worthless.  But as God provided the ram to take Isaac’s place, He has provided His lamb, Jesus, who takes away the “sin of the world”; to wash us of that which drives us from the one who created us, to cleanse us from that which drives us to our self-destruction and essentially makes us worthless.  God does this; HE PROVIDES THE SOLUTION.

clear
Posted on 02/21/2014 8:32 AM by Larry G
clear
Thursday, 20 February 2014
Ananias -- A Trusting Servant of God
clear

How would you have felt in Ananias’ place (9:10-16)?  Would you have been comfortable calling Saul “Brother Saul” (9:17)?  What does this show about Ananias?

Acts 9:10-17

10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. 11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” 13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Would we have been uncomfortable having anything to do with Saul in that situation?  This passage doesn’t show a man without fear or trepidation.  We know that Ananias did have fear but verse 17 shows that he made a decision to trust God/Jesus and go to Saul as directed, in spite of his fears.  Faith in Action.

clear
Posted on 02/20/2014 9:25 AM by Larry G
clear
Thursday, 20 February 2014
The Pattern of a Loving Father
clear

How is God like Abraham (Genesis 22:2, John 3:16)?

Genesis 22:2

2He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." 

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 eternal life. 

Like Abraham, God gives up the most valuable thing He possesses--His Son.  Abraham gives up Isaac because he loves and trusts God.  God gives up His Son because He loves us.  He loves us so much, that He gives us the most important valued thing He has--Himself in the person of His Son.

clear
Posted on 02/20/2014 8:28 AM by Larry G
clear
Wednesday, 19 February 2014
People in the Life of Saul
clear

 

What roles did Stephen, Ananias, and Barnabas have in Saul’s reconciliation with God and His people?

Stephen (Acts 7:60-8:1)

Saul had been one of the Jews from Asia that Stephen had been arguing with.  Stephen had actually been the one who caused Saul to begin the persecution of the church.

Ananias (Acts 9:10-17)

Acts 9:10-17

10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. 11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” 13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” 15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” 17 Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

God/Jesus uses Ananias as His emissary to Saul to show that He had forgiven him and that he, Saul had been chosen to carry His name to the Gentiles and before the people of Israel.

Barnabas (Acts 9:26-27)

Acts 9:26-27

26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.

God/Jesus uses Barnabas as His instrument to bring reconciliation between Saul and the rest of the disciples.  God uses him to reconcile people to, to heal.

How do these men’s examples apply to us?

God is in control.  He uses who He chooses and chooses who He will.  The bottom line is that God determined who were going to be his chosen instruments and placed them in time and space when He wanted them.  I think He also equipped and enabled each of them to do whatever tasks He had determined for them.  The one thing that they all had in common was that they trusted God and did as they were instructed or led by God/The Holy Spirit.

clear
Posted on 02/19/2014 9:16 AM by Larry G
clear
Wednesday, 19 February 2014
Comparing Isaac to Jesus
clear

How is Jesus like Isaac in this story (Genesis 22:2, 9; Mark 1:11, 14:36)?

Genesis 22:2, 9

2He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." ….9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.

Mark 1:11

And a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."

Mark 14:36

And he said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."

At this point in time, Isaac is not a little boy but probably a young man.  Abraham is now past one hundred years old.  Just knowing this, it becomes very clear that Isaac was definitely capable of resisting his father and putting an end to the intended sacrifice.  But he doesn’t do that; he willing carries the wood that is going to be used to burn him as a sacrifice; he allows himself to be bound up.  Isaac willingly becomes a sacrifice.  This is exactly what Jesus does.  Jesus didn’t have to allow himself to become human--but He did.  He didn’t have to put up with the torture and his crucifixion--but He did.  Why?  Well, it was the Father’s will; it was what was necessary to redeem creation.  

clear
Posted on 02/19/2014 8:23 AM by Larry G
clear
Tuesday, 18 February 2014
The Effect of Jesus on Our Outlooks on Life
clear

Has committing yourself to Christ changed your outlook and way of life as radically as Saul’s were changed? (See Philippians 3:2-11.)  Why or why not?  What would your life be like if you took Saul’s attitude.

Philippians 3:2-11

 2 Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh—4 though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless. 7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Some things changed pretty quickly.  But others didn’t.  What was Saul’s attitude?  Saul did not come in willingly; he needed to be struck by a thunderbolt to be brought around and then he needed to be brought to an absolutely helpless condition.  Saul had to be brought to the place or moment when he realized that he was totally wrong.  But then he was able to be instantly transformed into an apostle.  We don’t all start out in the same place.  For him it was a thunderbolt epiphany, for others it’s a longer process of push and pull.  Would my life had been different, if I had come to a complete instant revelation at the moment I accepted Jesus and made myself completely helpless, probably would have.  But I wasn’t in the same place as Paul; we didn’t start out the same way.

clear
Posted on 02/18/2014 9:12 AM by Larry G
clear
Tuesday, 18 February 2014
Living a Life of Faith
clear

According to James 2:20-24, what is one lesson we should draw from Abraham’s experience?

James 2:20-24

20 Fool! When will you ever learn that faith that does not result in good deeds is useless? 21 Don't you remember that our ancestor Abraham was declared right with God because of what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see, he was trusting God so much that he was willing to do whatever God told him to do. His faith was made complete by what he did -- by his actions23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: "Abraham believed God, so God declared him to be righteous." He was even called "the friend of God." 24 So you see, we are made right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

It comes down to this--our works, what we do, how we live our lives-these are the things that actually show what we believe.  This reminds me of the words of a song that go like this: “If you love Him, why not serve Him?”  It would seem to me that often our lives don’t reflect what we SAY we believe.  If we say we love God, we must obey Him and this is our witness--our lives reflect our actual beliefs, our real faith.  This isn’t about working to make ourselves acceptable to God; it’s about trusting and following Him.  It would be helpful to consider the 23rd Psalm here--He is the one who leads us to green pastures; He is the one who leads us to the clean water; He is the one who leads us along the paths of righteousness.  What do we do?  We follow.

clear
Posted on 02/18/2014 8:19 AM by Larry G
clear
Monday, 17 February 2014
The Irony of Saul's Entrance into Damascus
clear

What was ironic about the way Saul entered Damascus (Acts 9:6, 8)?  How had he intended to enter the city (9:2)?

9:6, 8 (Complete Jewish Bible)

6 But get up, and go into the city, and you will be told what you have to do.” ….8 They helped Sha’ul get up off the ground; but when he opened his eyes, he could see nothing. So, leading him by the hand, they brought him into Dammesek.

He was helpless and had to be led by the hand.

9:1, 2

1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.

He had left Jerusalem with letters from the high priest that authorized him to drag people out of their homes and to prison.  But here he is totally helpless being led by others-a supposedly powerful man who has no power.

What lesson does this example offer us?

When we come into the Kingdom, it is through no power of our own, we have no power.  We have to be led.  That’s the key for the rest of our lives; we must allow ourselves to be led.

clear
Posted on 02/17/2014 9:06 AM by Larry G
clear
Monday, 17 February 2014
Learning to Trust the LORD
clear

What does this episode reveal about God (Genesis 22:1-2, 12-18)?

Genesis 22:1-2, 12-18

1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I." 2He said, "Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you." ….12 He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, "The LORD will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided." 15 And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, "By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice." 

God puts us in situations where we can test “Him.”  The text says that God tested Abraham, but what really happens is Abraham is presented with an extreme opportunity to see whether or not God is trustworthy.  The question arises whether or not God will do what He has promised; and we are left with no doubt that God delivers.  It’s significant that God provides us with situations to test Him, to “taste” Him and to come to the realization that HE IS GOOD!  One final thing to consider here, when Abraham decides to obey that is when he can be blessed, when he can experience God’s goodness.  God created all things; He sets our boundaries and the laws that govern our existence.  When we obey or follow like Abraham we are staying inside those boundaries and we will enjoy the existence that God has determined for us.  To go outside of these boundaries, to go against His laws, will only lead to our destruction and preclude us from realizing His blessings.

clear
Posted on 02/17/2014 8:15 AM by Larry G
clear
Sunday, 16 February 2014
Jesus Appoints an Apostle
clear

Saul later emphasized that he saw Jesus Himself, not just a vision of Him (Acts 9:27, 22:14-15, 26:16: 1 Corinthians 9:1, 15:7-10).  What did this mean for him (1 Corinthians 9:1)?

Acts 9:27

27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.

Acts 22:14-15

14 “Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15 You will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.

Acts 26:16

16 ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you.

1 Corinthians 9:1

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord?

1 Corinthians 15:7-10

7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

He considered himself to be an apostle, an emissary of the Messiah.

clear
Posted on 02/16/2014 8:57 AM by Larry G
clear
Sunday, 16 February 2014
God Responds to Abraham's Willingness
clear

How did God respond to Abraham’s willingness (Genesis 22:11-18)?

Genesis 22:11-18

11 But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, "Abraham, Abraham!" And he said, "Here am I."12 He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called the name of that place, "The LORD will provide"; as it is said to this day, "On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided." 15 And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven 16 and said, "By myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies, 18 and in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed, because you have obeyed my voice." 

First we see that God provides a ram to replace Isaac and Abraham’s faith is strengthen when he sees that God provides what is needed.  Second, God reaffirms His promise to bless Abraham and the whole world through him and Isaac’s descendants.  Now this isn’t a quid pro quo situation.  As long as Abraham is in God’s will, he will be blessed. In actuality, this reflects the parameters or boundaries that govern God’s creation.  

clear
Posted on 02/16/2014 8:08 AM by Larry G
clear
Saturday, 15 February 2014
Jesus' Effect on Saul
clear

How else did his encounter with Jesus affect Saul?

Acts 9:8-9

8 Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9 For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

He is physically, mentally and emotionally helpless.

Acts 9:1-2, 20-30

1 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem….20 At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. 21 All those who heard him were astonished and asked, “Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 22 Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ. 23 After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him, 24 but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. 25 But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall. 26 When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30 When the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus

He is instantly transformed and empowered.  He becomes someone who has tremendous endurance, courage and staying power.  He becomes focused.

clear
Posted on 02/15/2014 8:54 AM by Larry G
clear
Saturday, 15 February 2014
Abraham Fears God
clear

What did Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac prove (Genesis 22:12)?

Genesis 22:12

He said, "Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me." 

The text says that God now knows that Abraham fears, or respects Him.  God knows that Abraham TRUSTS Him.  More importantly, Abraham’s faith has grown immensely; he knows that God is trustworthy and faithful; He will do what He says.

clear
Posted on 02/15/2014 8:06 AM by Larry G
clear
clear
Showing 1-21 of 36 [Next 20]