January 7, 2017
The three men that visited Abraham were from the “LORD” (All caps means the name “Yahweh” is being translated). The two silent ones were angels (Gen. 19:1), and the third was a physical manifestation of the LORD, possibly the preincarnate Christ. Abraham invited them to stay for a meal and they accepted. While they were eating, the One who spoke as the LORD asked where Abraham’s wife Sarah was. Abraham replied that she was in the tent. He then told Abraham that He would return “according to the time of life” (i.e. “nine months”), and “behold,” Sarah would have a son. Sarah, who was listening (i.e. “eavesdropping”) within the tent, laughed to herself and doubted that an old woman like her could ever conceive. The LORD, who hears even when we laugh to ourselves, heard Sarah and asked Abraham why she laughed and doubted Him. He asked, “Is anything to hard for the LORD?”
The question is obviously rhetorical. Nothing is too hard for our God! But this story, with the personal visitation, the shared meal, the announcement of a coming son, and the questioning of Sarah’s lack of faith… this intimate and relational story teaches us that nothing is too small for our God either!
Lift everything up to the LORD today. The hard things and the small things too. He cares for you.
January 6, 2017
Abram gave his nephew, Lot, first choice of the land and Lot chose the Jordan valley, so Abram stayed in the hills of Hebron. Later, the people of the valley were caught up in a war and Lot, his family and possessions were taken as spoils. Abram mustered his men and pursued those who had taken Lot. He defeated them and brought back Lot with all the people and goods taken. Upon his return, Abram gave a tithe of the spoils to Melchizedek, but refused to keep any of the spoils for himself, insisting that he had sworn an oath to the Lord that he would take nothing lest they should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ Abram let Lot choose the best of the land, and after rescuing him and all the people and goods taken, he refused the spoils. Yet, after returning home from this great victory empty-handed, he must’ve had some fear and anxiety. For God came to him in a vision telling him not to be afraid, for the Lord Himself was his “shield” and his “exceedingly great reward.”
When we choose to answer God’s call and depend on Him for our provision, we will encounter days of doubt and fear. Often, these days will come right after a great victory. On days like this, be encouraged. For God Himself is our protector and our “exceedingly great reward!”
January 5, 2017
Abram obeyed God’s call to leave his home and go to a land that God would show him when he was 75 years old. At an age when most have long since retired, Abram had just got started. Abram obeyed God’s call. And God changed his name from Abram, which means “father,” to Abraham, which means “father of nations.” Abraham believed God and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Do you think it’s too late for you to obey God’s call on your life? Think again.
January 2, 2017
After Adam and Eve’s firstborn son, Cain, slew their son, Abel, they must have despaired of ever seeing the son of promise (see Gen. 3:15) being born to them. Cain’s fratricide had essentially denied them both of their sons. Yet, God “appointed” another son to be born to Eve, and she named him Seth. And to Seth a son was born that he named “Enosh.” The name “Enosh” means “man,” as in “mankind” or “human.” It was to this line, the line of Seth and Enosh, that the promised Messiah would someday be born, who also would be called the “Son of Man” (In Aramaic, “Bar-Enosh,” see Daniel 7:13). And it was this line of Enosh that “began to call on the name of the Lord” in prayer and worship. The doctrines of the creation and of the fall have been introduced, and now the doctrine of salvation begins to unfold. The Bible covers many topics, but it is primarily a love story of God’s redemption of humanity (“enosh”) through His Son Jesus, the Son of Man (“Bar-Enosh”). The entire Old Testament is preparation for this promised Son that would be revealed in the New. Look for Him on every page. Christ and the gospel are the lens through which the Bible is rightly understood. Finding Him there, we join those who call on the Name of the Lord.
January 22, 2016
Judah, the fourth son of Jacob’s twelve, now acts as spokesman. This is an early indication of Judah’s rise to leadership. Reuben, the eldest, lost his birthright through sexual misconduct with Jacob’s concubine Bilhah (Gen. 35:22), and the bloody revenge taken by Simeon (son #2) and Levi (son #3) following the rape of Dinah (Gen. 34), led to Jacob’s curse over them (Gen. 49). Judah, who had been against killing Joseph, now offers himself as ransom for his brother, Benjamin (Gen. 44:33). Even though Joseph is their rescuer during this time of famine, Judah is the brother whom Jacob later blesses as the “lion’s cub” and the one to whom the “scepter shall not depart,” speaking of his later kingship (Gen.49). Judah is the tribe to which King David and King Jesus are born.
January 20, 2016
Joseph is a christological type. His story foreshadows the story of Christ. Just as Christ began his public ministry at the age of 30, so did Joseph’s public work. God’s plan for Joseph to be in a position to save his brethren, as the dreams of his youth predicted, were now being fulfilled. His brothers do bow before him. I wonder if Joseph felt that all the years of enslavement and imprisonment were now worth it. For it was his suffering that God used to elevate him to this place of ministry, not only to save his brothers, but the whole hungry world. Are you going through a time of suffering? Don’t waste the pain. God has promised to cause all things to work together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28). Persevere and believe. God has a plan.
January 19, 2016
After the ugly sexual sins of the previous chapter, it’s refreshing to see Joseph resisting temptation and maintaining his purity. Yet, surprisingly he is not immediately rewarded, but falsely accused and imprisoned for it. The world doesn’t reward righteousness, but God does. And even though Joseph was fallen from favored son to household slave, and then from slave to prisoner, God had not left him. In the midst of his low estate, God was with Joseph. No matter the circumstance, God gave Joseph favor before those in authority over him. And Joseph was found faithful in every place, so that in the fulness of time, God elevated him to the right hand of Egypt’s royal throne.
January 18, 2016
In the middle of the Joseph story, the Bible takes a detour to offer details about Judah and his twin boys, Perez and Zerah, born to his daughter-in-law, Tamar. This story is disturbing, not only because of the sudden change of topic, but because it seems so immoral and foreign to modern ears. The tradition of the brother providing a son to his deceased brother’s wife is foreign to us, but it was a way of preserving the family line and inheritance, and also a provision for the widow. Yet, the way that Tamar tricked Judah into fulfilling this tradition, after he withheld his third son from her, seems even more strange. What’s the moral of such a story? Why does the Bible include this story filled with deceit, masturbation, fornication, prostitution, and hypocrisy? Perhaps the Gospel of Matthew provides the answer. In his genealogy of Jesus, he says, “This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers, Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar” (Matthew 1:1-3). You see, the Bible is not so much a story about humanity. It is a story about God, specifically, God’s Son. Tamar is the first of five women mentioned in Christ’s lineage. Perhaps the Bible included her story in Genesis because of its connection to the promised Messiah, who came into this messy, sin-filled world to save sinners like us. Tamar needed a son to rescue her. The Son born into her family line would rescue not only her, but all those willing to receive Him.
January 16, 2016
After a sleepless night wrestling with God, Jacob went to bed with one name and woke up with a another one. Instead of the name “Jacob,” a name that came from his grasping his twin brother Esau’s heel at birth, (Perhaps we get the phrase “you’re pulling my leg” from this), his name became “Israel” (“one who prevailed with God”). God gave Jacob a new identity. He went from being the schemer to the spiritual founder of the twelve tribes of Israel. Along with his new name, God caused him to walk with a limp for the rest of his life. Ironically, God “pulled Jacob’s leg” until it popped out of joint. From that day forward, Jacob began to learn to lean on God rather than his own effort.
January 15, 2016
As Jacob returned to the land of Canaan with his wives, children, servants and flocks, he remembered how he had left there with only the clothes on his back and the staff in his hand. His prayer reflected that it wasn’t only the outward blessings that were different. His heart was changing too. He credited God’s “steadfast love” and “faithfulness” for all that he had, not his own scheming or self-effort. The Hebrew word, “chesed” (חָ֫סֶד – kheh’-sed), is the word translated, “steadfast love.” It is the Hebrew word that comes closest in meaning to the New Testament Greek word “agape,” which speaks of God’s unconditional love. Jacob recognized that it was God’s faithfulness and favor that had brought him thus far. When have you had a moment like this, when you became aware that it was God who has blessed you with all that you have?