Walking Through Genesis- Chapter 30

The family feud continues from the previous chapter. The battle back and forth between the wives of Jacob continues. It almost reminds us of something that would be off a reality TV show! After Leah and Rachel stopped bearing children they then gave Jacob their servants, Zilpah and Bilhah, in order to have more sons. It’s  mockery of how things should be done! There is even an exchange where Rachel “allows” Leah to sleep with Jacob for some mandrakes Reuben gave her. Finally the two (or really four) stopped giving birth to children.

The story then makes a huge move where Jacob requests to be able to leave Laban and return to his homeland. Laban and Jacob work out a deal and then Jacob retrieves what he and Laban had agreed to for his service.

The lessons here are pretty much the same as the previous chapter. The wild events that are taking place in Jacob’s family would be comical if it weren’t so sad. At any rate, it should become apparent to us that the best way to have a balanced family life is not to have more than one wife, to not play favorites, and to not to attempt to circumvent God’s plan.

The other lesson, as with the previous chapters, is to simply be honest. Just work out your details with your fellows before there is a problem. In Jacob’s case, Laban had turned into what Jacob was turning away from, a cheat. So in your dealings with others, be honest!

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Walking Through Genesis- Chapter 28

The chapter continues the story from chapter 27. Jacob had just deceived his father, included God in his lie, and caused his brother Esau to want to kill him. After a short exchange between his parents, Isaac then bids Jacob to return to the homeland and find a wife there (as did his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac).

The writer of Genesis then includes an almost parenthetical paragraph of Esau’s marriage  to another wife. So he married again, in addition to the wives he had already married (see 26.34).

So Jacob set out to travel back to Harran to find a wife. During this journey he rests, placing his head on a rock for a pillow. As he was sleeping the vision of the ladder reaching to heaven and angels ascending and descending on it comes to him. Then God grants the same blessing upon Jacob that he had previously given to Abraham and Isaac. Upon waking Jacob realized that he was in the presence of God. He then made a vow to become a follow of God if God would provide for his needs and bring him safely back to his home.

This journey for Jacob would prove to be one that would have a significant effect on the rest of his life. He is slowly beginning to change from the heel catcher to the prince of God. Now before we are too harsh on Jacob, let’s remember our own spiritual journey. I imagine that most of us are like Jacob, at first we were dirty scoundrels. We were the trouble makers, the liars. But slowly, as Jacob was, we are being made more like Jesus. So as we walk through the rest of this book, we are really walking by a mirror. It is my hope that as you and I look at our reflection that we see our own journey from being heel catchers to princes with God.

Walking Through Genesis- Chapter 27

Here is, to me, one of the saddest chapters in Genesis. Esau made the mistake of selling his birthright (see chapter 25), but now Jacob (through the leading of his mother) deceives both his father and Esau. What’s worse is that Jacob does so using the Lord’s Name (27.20). Eventually Jacob achieves his goal, receiving the blessing from his father, but at the cost of lying and destroying any semblance of family unity. Perhaps Jacob’s future favoritism was in part due to the favoritism of his own parents. Needless to say, this time Jacob created such a hostile atmosphere that Rebekah had to tell him to go to her brother’s land and stay there until Esau cooled off. Unfortunately for both Jacob and Rebekah, the two would never meet again. Let this be a lesson for us today, that when we try and do things our way rather than allowing The Lord to either open a door or completely take care of the issue, it will result in unnecessary hardship.

Walking in Genesis- Chapter 25

In this chapter we find the taking of another wife by Abraham, his death, the genealogies of Isaac and Ishmael, the birth of Isaac’s two sons, and the selling of Esau’s birthright.

Coming from the previous two chapters this one is packed with information. But we can still glean some basic principles from each segment.

Abraham’s taking of another wife (which was probably a concubine) is an interesting account. I will save any discussions on polygamy for another day, but one thing about it is it can cause a great deal of derision. We have already seen how Sarah treated Hagar, and while she wasn’t treated as harshly, Keturah and her children were sent away. I can’t imagine doing this, but it was fairly normal for ME culture. Either way, our take away is that multiple marriages can create some rather difficult situations.

The two genealogies are recorded, and while we may make our way through the names with difficulty, there are important because they tell us that people (those whom the names represent) are important.

The third aspect comprises Rebekah’s barrenness, prayer, and eventual pregnancy. Isaac prayed for her barrenness and God blessed her with twins. During the pregnancy she had difficulty, and because she was concerned she prayed to God to make sure that everything was okay. God answered her prayer and spoke to her! It is amazing that this was noted in the Hebrew Bible which is predominantly a male focused society. God interacts with women just as much as He does with men!

The final account is the selling of the birthright. While we do not have birthrights today, the connection we can make is valuing what is important. Esau did not understand (or at the most did not care) about the value of the birthright. He would later come to regret this decision, but for now he was satisfied with releasing it. Often in our lives we sell what is precious to us, perhaps time with our spouses, our children, or more importantly with our Heavenly Father for cheap things. Instead of playing with our kids we watch the game. Instead of holding our little baby we clean the house. Or instead of reading the Bible we go out with friends. The examples are endless. Unfortunately we commit the same folly that Esau did. May we learn from these lessons as we continue to walk through Genesis.
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Walking Through Genesis- Chapter 24

Chapter 24 is about the unnamed servant of Abraham finding a wife for Isaac. It is a wonderful chapter that really shows how God can and does work in the life of His children to bring about His purpose. It also shows how prayer can have a drastic affect on our lives and provide direction for us as well.

In this case Abraham’s servant made a promise to his master that he would go to Abraham’s original homeland and find a wife for Isaac. If he couldn’t find anyone then the servant would be free from the oath. So he gets his caravan ready and when he arrived he asked “the God of my master Abraham” (24.12) to be with him and bless his way. Having lived with Abraham for many years this servant had become a believer, and now was experiencing the same direction that God provided Abraham in his own life. Eventually he prayed a very specific prayer and God answered it. It was a wonderful example of God’s providence through our prayer lives.

So as you go about your day, week, and year, remember the example of Abraham’s servant. Pray for God’s direction, pray specifically, and watch God move and direct in your life.

Walking Through Genesis- Chapter 16

This chapter’s main focus, at least to me, is man’s attempt to carry out God’s will in man’s way. Sarai could not bear children, and so in order to provide Abram a heir she offered her servant Hagar. Eventually it created division between Hagar and Sarai, and Abram allowed Sarai to kick the pregnant Hagar out. While in the wilderness God promised Hagar that she would have a son and that He would multiply his offspring. He would also be a wild man and would fight against everyone and they would fight against him. We must remember as we go throughout our lives that in order to carry out God’s will we must do it God’s way. In Abram’s case, it would have been extremely difficult to follow through with this being that he was 86 years old! But God promised He would have a son, and Abram would need to have faith and allow God to work. I realize that as I type this I am sitting on a comfortable bed, with my wife and two children safe and sound. It is easy for to say “Have faith in God and allow Him to do things His way.” But as we have already seen in Abram’s life, and as we will continue to see in the book of Genesis, God is in control. And we must simply rest in His sovereignty, as one would rest on a hammock after a nice day of work. 

Walking Through Genesis- Chapter 15

The 15th chapter of Genesis concerns what theologians call The Abrahamic Covenant. Chapter 12 and 17 also speak about Abraham’s relationship with God as well. 

Our focus will go from each aspect and we will draw applications as we move through the chapter.

15:1-6 is perhaps one of the most important passages of Scripture because it tells us how Abram had righteousness deposited to his account. To begin with Abram and God discuss the issue of Sarai’s (Abram’s wife) barrenness. In Middle Eastern culture it was normal for the heir to be a servant. However, God had blessed Abram and promised him that he would indeed have a son. So there are two things for us to take hold of in this passage: First, we need to take God at His Word. As with most things, this is much easier said than done. It’s easy to say we believe God is in control, but it is another thing entirely to trust Him when a loved one is on the hospital. The second thing we see is the importance of faith. It says, “And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness.” (15.6, ESV). Faith is the essential element to begin and keep a life with God. Books, commentaries, lectures and sermons have all been made or given on this topic. The thing for us to remember is that we must believe God, and for our benefit God counts that as righteousness.

15:7-21 is a lengthy account of sacrifices, prophecy, and blessing. It is important to remember that, as we move through passages like this, that as difficult as it may be there is always something for us to apply. One of the things about sacrifice is that it requires work. Abram had to find the animals listed by God (a heifer three years old, female goat three years old, a ram three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon). Not only did he have to find these specific animals but he also had to sacrifice them. In this case, Abram cut them in half. Thankfully we do not have to do things like this today! But our sacrifice is something that requires an equal amount of work, if not more. We are told to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice (see Romans 12:1-2). The second thing we can glean from this passage is comfort! Now, you may wonder how in the world we can glean comfort from a series of statements about Israel facing slavery in Egypt, but we can! Here’s why: God is in control! Nothing takes Him by surprise, and we can rest assured that He has a purpose for everything (see verse 16). The final thing we see is that God does indeed bless us. In our case we do nothing to deserve blessing. That is something that we must understand, for otherwise we develop a handout mentality. As we go through every day we must, like Abram, remember that God has blessed us and thank Him for it!

Walking Through Genesis- Chapter 14

Chapter 14 is comprised of two main accounts: the battle of the kings and the encounter with Melchizedek. The chapter gives several truths that can be extremely beneficial for the believer today.

                         The Battle of the Kings

     Synopsis: This section deals with the battle of kings whose names I can hardly pronounce! The basics of this story are four kings went to war with five kings. The basis for the war was the five kings were wearied after serving Chedorlaomer for twelve years (14.4). During this battle Lot (Abram’s nephew) was captured along with his possessions (14.12). Abram then gathered his trained men (which totaled 318) and went and rescued Lot (14.13-16).

     Application: If you are like me, at first you were probably pretty perplexed to gather something from this that we could apply today. However, there are several truths that we can and should apply. 

     1. First, the deeds of the five kings were noble. To rise up and face those who are taking advantage of you is quite a noble thing to do. Of course, the additional lesson here is that all of our efforts to avenge ourselves (or others) do not always result in the desired outcome. In this case, the five kings were effortless defeated and also led to the defeat of other groups of people, including Lot. So, stand up for what is right, even though sometimes it may result in your own defeat. We are reminded of the quote attributed to Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men do nothing.”

     2. The Boy Scout motto is the next thing we can learn from: Be prepared. For both Lot and Abram this event had incredible consequences. For Lot, the failure to provide protection resulted in his kidnapping. Of course, there are somethings that we cannot prepare for in life. But “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” Our own failure to plan for the attacks of the enemy (the flesh, the world, and the devil) inevitably leads to our own capture. From Abram’s perspective, his ability to plan out and execute an attack with his limited resources led to the rescue of his nephew, in addition to the other people (14.16). The same stands true in our lives, if we plan and make the necessary provisions we can face the enemy head on with victory. A perfect example of adequate preparation for the believer can be found in Ephesians 6.10-20.

     3. The final aspect of application from this glorious battle is that some things are worth fighting for in our lives. Abram believed he was able to help Lot and the others and took action to deliver them. He gathered his own men and supplies and through incredible warfare defeated his foe. There will be times in our lives where we face something for which is worth fighting. Your spouse, your family, you friends, your church, and most importantly, your God are all worth fighting for. Sometimes these battles will vary from an inward attack on doubt or unbelief while other times it may be overt and in public view. But take heart in Abram’s example, fight for the things that are dear to you, and embrace victory.

                         The Meeting of Melchizedek

Synopsis: On Abram’s return from victory he meets the King of Salem, Melchizedek. He blesses Abram, offers a sacrifice of bread and wine, and then accepts tithes from him. After this interchange the king of Sodom attempts to offer gifts to Abram for saving him but Abram declines. His reason for doing so was for people to see the God had blessed Abram and not the king of Sodom

Application: This part of chapter 14 is a little easier to see application for us today, and for the serious student, it provides a depth of material.

  1. Melchizedek is a type of Christ. There are numerous studies about the subject, and for our purposes we will not attempt to discuss the matter. We are focusing predominately on the application aspect of Genesis. So how can we apply this type of Christ? I think it is important to realize that Jesus is everywhere (I understand that when Jesus became human he laid aside certain divine attributes, when I say Jesus I am referring more to God in the transcendent manner). One of the key differences of the saved and unsaved in Matthew 25 is the helping of those in need (see Matthew 25.31-46). And, interestingly, Jesus makes the connection of helping those in need with helping Jesus Himself! (On a side note, those in need in Matthew 25 were Jewish people during the tribulation. But the application stands for us to help those in need.)
  2. Abram offered tithes. This one is important, for many believers believe tithing no longer applies to us today. This is pre-Mosaic law. That is an important thing to note, because before Moses wrote down the law for the Israelites to follow tithing was in practice! So we are to tithe as well. Give!
  3. Learn to say no. This is a very difficult thing to do! If you are like me you may find it difficult to tell someone no. You want to please people and help them out. But sometimes it is actually better to say no then to say yes to everything. People are finding out today that saying no is not only a good thing, but a biblical thing. For Abram, it was important to say no because he wanted people to know where his possessions and greatness had come: God. This is a wonderful example of humility, and one that many today (including myself) need! In our American dream culture, it is easy for us to say yes to everything. But we must, like Abram, learn to say no.

Genesis is sometimes tricky, but I think you and I are starting to see that this incredibly old book has some wonderful applications for us today. Stay tuned as we continue Walking Through Genesis!

Walking Through Genesis- Chapter 13

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In Genesis chapter 13 Abram and Lot separate paths. It all began with fighting between Abram’s herdsmen and Lot’s herdsmen. Verse seven makes the additional statement, “At that time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were dwelling in the land.” Verses 8-13 then cover the details of the split, initiated by Abram. The chapter ends with God’s promise to bless Abram with land (verses 14-15) and offspring (verse 16).

There are several interesting parts of this account. To begin with, many times Lot received the raw end of the deal for separating from Abram. But upon closer examination Abram actually told Lot to separate from him. Now, could Lot have chosen a better, more moral place? Of course! But this does show us that sometimes even good people can make wrong decisions. Perhaps Lot could have stayed with Abram and found another way around the conflict between their workers. Undoubtedly the two men could have brought their workers under control and instructed them on how to deal with conflict. Before we move on, I will say that it is easy to pass judgment from the present looking back, but we must remember that unfortunately we do not have all the details of the situation.

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Another important fact to note is verse 7 were the writer informs us that Canaanites and Perizzites still inhabit the land. It would have made sense economically speaking for Abram and Lot to remain together for the security and added protection against these two groups of people.

A final thought is the reasons Lot used to determine which direction to choose. Now, before we get too hard on Lot, he had cattle, and cattle need grass and water. It made perfect sense. In fact, to choose otherwise would have been foolish, at least in the eyes of the world. The Christian must not make decisions on what makes sense solely. That is, while we should do things that are logical, believers should not bypass the all important step: prayer. One aspect of Abram’s life is that he was constantly building altars (see 12.7, 8 and 13.18). One part of building altars was praying to the deity, which in this case is God (Abram also prayed at one of the altars upon his return visit, see 13.4).

So, from this chapter of Genesis, we have learned:

• Sometimes good people can make the wrong decision or can influence others to make the wrong decision.

• Strife often becomes a barrier to protection, encouragement, and good relationships. Proverbs tells us that pride brings contention (Proverbs 13.10). And we learn from Christ’s example that humility cures hardships on relationships (see Philippians 2.3-8).

• When making decisions, follow Abram’s example of seeking God’s face. He knows the best way to take, and while it may appear to be the opposite of what makes sense humanly speaking, God’s ways are above ours (Isaiah 55.8).

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