January 7, 2018
When my children were young and took too long to obey, I would say to them, “Slow obedience is no obedience.” Certainly, Abraham could not be accused of this. He was quick to obey God, as the Scripture says, “On that very day…” When Abraham believed, he obeyed. There was no disconnect between his faith and his obedience. Not only was he quick to obey, he obeyed fully. As the Scripture also says, “Just as God had told him.”
It is good to teach our children to obey us just as Abraham obeyed the Lord. Three attributes of obedience should be taught. In teaching, you might ask, “Johnny, how do you obey?” And his learned response should be, “Immediately, sweetly and completely.” This is good training for our children, but also good instruction for how we should obey the Lord.
January 6, 2018
What did Abram do to be considered righteous? It was not “what” he did, but “Who” he believed. For it was by believing the Lord that he was “counted as righteous.” The apostle Paul wrote of this saying, “The words ‘it was credited to him’ were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Rom. 4:23-24). When the crowds following Jesus asked, “‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent’” (John 6:28-29).
Neither the Old, nor the New Testaments, teach that righteousness comes through law-keeping. Righteousness is credited to those who have put their faith in Jesus. As the Scripture says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
January 5, 2018
Abram began a pattern of going “down to Egypt” when famine hit the land of Canaan that his descendants also followed. Although it may not always have been the case, “going down to Egypt” often represented Israel’s dependence on the world rather than on God. Abram, whose name was later changed by God to Abraham, was a man of great faith, but he was also a man with all the shortcomings of humanity.
January 4, 2018
The Noahic (Rainbow) Covenant
Whether this was the first appearance of a rainbow or not, the rainbow was now a sign of God’s covenant with Noah and “all the earth.” (Some speculate that it was the first rainbow because the post-flood atmosphere of the earth was changed from its pre-flood condition – This is called the “canopy theory.” ) This covenant had three important features:
1) It’s an unconditional covenant. This covenant is based on God’s faithfulness, not man’s (Gen. 9:9).
2) It’s a universal covenant. It’s for “all the earth.” No one is excluded.
3) It’s an everlasting covenant. God said, “Never again will a flood destroy the earth” (Gen. 9:11).
The covenant God made with Noah and “all the earth” is still active today. The next time you see a rainbow, think of God’s faithfulness.
January 3, 2018
The Lord warned Noah about the coming worldwide deluge. He gave Noah specific instructions on how to build the ark, so that he, his family, and representatives from each animal kind would be saved from the flood.
Do you believe this account? Jesus did. He often referred to Noah and the flood when He spoke of the last days and His second coming:
“But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt. 24:37-39).
January 2, 2018
Genesis 3 tells the story of what the poet, John Milton called, “Paradise Lost.” For Adam and Eve gave in to the three-fold temptation of eating the forbidden fruit. Notice the three observations that Eve makes of the forbidden fruit: 1) It was “beautiful” to the eyes, 2) it looked like it would taste “delicious,” and 3) the serpent had promised it would make her wise “like God.” At the very “moment” of eating the fruit, humanity’s innocence was lost and so was paradise.
The apostle John recognized this three-fold weakness of humanity. He wrote, “For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world” (1 John 2:16).
Yet, Jesus Christ, as the “second Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45-49), has overcome this three-fold temptation (see Matt. 4:1-11). So, that when we are found in Christ, we are overcomers too (1 John 5:5).
January 24, 2017
Jacob, who was called Israel, spoke a word over each of his sons from his death bed. He bestowed a double portion to Joseph, giving his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, equal standing to his other sons. And so, when the twelve tribes of Israel move out of Egypt 400 years later, two of the twelve tribes are called Ephraim and Manasseh. The last words of Jacob are explanatory and prophetic. They explain the origin of the twelve tribes of Israel, and they predict the coming of the Messiah to the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:8-12). Genesis is a book of beginnings. It describes the creation and the fall of humanity. It begins the story of God’s rescue.
January 20, 2017
Joseph’s brothers stripped him of his coat of many colors that his father, Jacob, had given him. They threw him naked into a pit and sold him into slavery. But God raised him up. The Lord gave Joseph favor with Pharaoh, who put his own signet ring on his finger (A “signet” ring is like a “signature,” giving Joseph power to “sign” with Pharaoh’s authority). He put fine linen robes on his back and a gold chain around his neck. Joseph’s coat of many colors was now replaced. God exalted Joseph to an even higher place of favor than he had held before.
Again, we see Joseph as a Christological type. His life foreshadows the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Jesus was stripped naked and crucified, but the Lord raised Him up and clothed Him with glory and power, giving Him “all authority in heaven and earth” (Matt. 28:18).
January 19, 2017
Joseph was “taken down to Egypt.” The Lord’s plan to elevate Joseph over his brethren, and one day rescue them from famine, led downward. The dreamer found himself in a nightmare. Down, down, down he went. The once favored son was betrayed by his brethren, stripped of his robes, thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused, and left forsaken in a prison. Yet, Joseph’s character never crumbled, nor did his faith fail. He kept on trusting the Lord. And the Lord lifted him up to save his family. If Genesis 38 revealed the wickedness of humanity, then chapter 39 foreshadowed God’s eternal plan to rescue it.
The story of Joseph points to Jesus. For the beloved Son of God would one day remove His divine robes, and make “Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and come in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6-7), He would be betrayed by His brethren and become “obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. Therefore God will highly exalt Him and give Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:8-11).
Just as Joseph’s betraying brothers later bowed before him, so rebellious humanity will one day bow before the Lord Jesus. Reading the Scriptures, we should always look for Jesus. Looking with spiritual eyes, we will see Him on every page.
January 17, 2017
Jacob, whose name became Israel, had finally found a place to pitch his tent. The place was called the “tower of Eder” (Hebrew: “Migdal Eder),” which literally means “Tower of the Flock.” It described a hill with a tower where the shepherds could watch over their sheep. Migdal Eder was located between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. It was a area of beautiful pastures and streams where Jacob’s flocks could graze and where he could finally be at rest from his running. Yet, it was also a place of grief and disappointment as he mourned the death of his wife Rachel and heard of the sinful incest of his son, Reuben. Migdal Eder was not mentioned again in the Scriptures until the prophet Micah, who wrote that it would be the place where the Messiah would be announced (Micah 4:8). And so, the gospel writer Luke reported that it was in the fields “nearby” Bethlehem that the angel appeared announcing the Messiah’s birth to the shepherds keeping watch over their “flocks by night” (Luke 2:8). Migdal Eder, the place where Israel found rest, was ultimately the place where the whole world could find rest. The place where Jesus Christ was first revealed.