Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sunday, January 4th: Genesis 10-12, Romans 4 ~ Tammy

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Genesis 10-12, Romans 4

This post is a bit longer than usual, but I looked back at several of the posts from last year when we studied Genesis in depth and loved a few of the points from there, so I'm recycling a few of them.

We see very quickly, our today's passage, that sin was in no way drowned in the flood.  The earth may have been renewed, but it was the same old humanity.  Sadly, the tower of Babel incident likely happened only 100 years after the flood - Noah's family would still have been alive.  People who lived on the ark and witnessed God's judgment were still around, giving first hand testimony to the consequences of rebellion against God, and still mankind chose to reject Him.

There are several things we can take away from this passage.

First - man's ideas can never thwart the purposes of God. The people didn't want to scatter across the earth, but God made it happen anyway. When we live our lives in resistance to God's plan, we will only encounter frustration and failure. God's plan will prevail no matter what - we get to choose if we are blessed as we go along with God's plan, or if we are frustrated as we vainly struggle against it.

Second - we should not strive for unity at any cost. Rather, we must strive for purity and obedience to the Word of God. Yes, we are called to be peacemakers, but peace must never be achieved at the cost of purity and holiness. True unity can only happen in Christ, but it's this exact unity that immediately causes a division between the redeemed and the unredeemed.

Third - all of humanity's communication problems stem from this incident, and this gap can only be bridged by Christ, and ultimately only when we begin eternity with Him.

Fourth - Superficial relationships and activities, even "good" ones, will never satisfy us. We need to remember not to be only considered with church building projects or programs, but to pursue right relationship with God and with each other.

Fifth - We must only place our faith in the Word of God, not on anything man-made. Only work which is done for the Lord and in His strength brings lasting satisfaction.

Sixth - Much of what we do is a testament to our insecurity, of thinking that God's will is dependant on our faithfulness instead of His, or that our salvation is based on our works, that we are fearful of the unknown to come after this life, of trying to secure God's blessing by serving or doing more.

In our introduction to Abraham we see that, though God calls him and though he is known as the patriarch of the faith, he was a flawed man in need of grace just like us.

When God called him to leave his land, his family, and his father's house, and go to a land God would show him - he didn't obey right away. In fact, it seems to be Terah's decision to move from Ur to Haran (Genesis 11:31), and it took until Terah's death for Abam to leave Haran (Genesis 11:32).

Abram believed God would give him land, a seed, and a blessing - but he didn't trust God for the means to get there. He thought he had to help God out a little along the way. This is never the case! God always provides the means - but it doesn't mean it will be an easy path.

Our faith fails when we believe our God to be too small. Abram didn't believe that God was greater than Pharaoh, or greater than the famine. The way to increase our faith is to increase in our knowledge of God and deepen our relationship with Him. Abram didn't have a Bible to help him with this, but we do. We need to use it!

God never puts us in a situation where we must sin. Abram though lying was his only option. He likely hadn't considered Pharaoh wanting Sarai for himself. He likely thought one of the other Egyptians would be interested in this eligible maiden and he could delay any engagements until the famine was over and they could leave, all while keeping Sarai under his roof and protection. It likely seemed like a small white lie and surely ok under the circumstances. But we serve a God who is able to deliver His people no matter what the circumstances without resorting to sin.

There are no short cuts to godliness. Abram went to Egypt in order to bypass the test of famine, not realizing that God's tests are designed to develop and increase our faith, not destroy it. Abram sidestepped the famine and got Pharaoh instead, and then God led him right back to where he got off the path. We can't sidestep God's plan for our lives. We may be able to delay them, but always at a cost to ourselves or those we love. God's purposes are never thwarted by man.

Sin has short term rewards but long term pain. Abram gained wealth from his time in Egypt but everything he gained in Egypt came at a cost. It was because of his great wealth that Abraham and Lot eventually had to separate, encouraging Lot to desire the riches of Sodom. Among the servants he received from the Egyptians was Hagar, and we all know how well that situation turned out.

Thankfully, when our faith fails, God's faithfulness doesn't. God protected Sarai, prospered Abram, and brought them back to the Promised Land where they were supposed to be.

Despite all his flaws, Abram believed God.  We can see how God's plan unfolded but we have the benefit of hindsight and God's Word.  We know far more about God's call on his life than Abraham ever did, and yet, he believed God.  

And guess where the the NT reference to Abraham believing God and it being credited to him as righteousness comes up, along with a big discussion on faith?  Romans 4, our NT passage for today.  Love it!

What a great reminder for us to do the same.  Believe, trust, and obey - without knowing all the details ahead of time.

 Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Genesis 13-15, Romans 5


Pamela said...

The Tower of Babel story stood out for me today because it made me wonder why the people didn't want to scatter in favour of building a super high tower? And why did God want them to scatter?

I found this to chew on:
The Tower of Babel was built to prevent the people from scattering across the earth. Because the people would not scatter themselves, God scattered them.

Various Dialects

In the account of the Tower of Babel the text seems to indicate that the various dialects had not appeared yet and that everyone on earth had one language and vocabulary. The Lord understood the motive and ambition of the people. Because the people had built a tower in defiance of Him, God then caused the one language on the earth to be confused. Once the languages were confounded the people scattered. Many questions arise concerning this account.

One Language?

Did they all speak the same language? There are some people who feel the biblical text does not demand that there was only one language at the time. They point to the preceding chapter, Genesis ten, which divides the table of nations based upon the various languages.

Babel And Pentecost

There is an obvious contrast between Babel and Pentecost. At the tower of Babel the languages were confused and the people were scattered. At Pentecost God supernaturally allowed the people to speak languages and dialects they had not previously learned to testify to the glory of God. Pentecost was the reversal of Babel.

and also this:

Why did the LORD scatter the people? Many seem to think it was some sort of punishment, but I've come to believe that it was primarily to produce diversity in the human race. He used the people as seeds, scattering them across the whole earth. Another reason might be found in the adage: don't keep all your eggs in one basket. But why did he confound their language? I believe this was to prevent the tribes of the earth from mixing back together before their time. With their original language destroyed, each tribe must have developed their own distinct language.

Had the LORD not intervened at Babel, the human race may not have survived, and surely would not have attained the rich diversity we have today. So, far from being some kind of punishment for building the tower, it seems to me this was a strategic move made by someone who knew what he was doing.

If, back in days of Babel, the plan was to separate the people, today we're seeing the opposite: a great reintegration. We are today approaching a "new world order" which, when fully realized, will bring us back under one government and one language. The book of Revelation foretells of this coming state of affairs, and describes how the whole world will fall under the spell of the "beast" governing them, and then the end will come. It would appear that everything is going according to plan. The seeds were scattered, the tribes have flourished and matured, and now they're coming back together, for one last grand play on the stage we call earth, one last lesson, if you will, before finally moving on, together as one richly diverse family of man, to our next phase of existence: life in the heavens; and we won't need to build a tower to get there.

Conrad said...

Thank you for the additional insight into today's reading. It is interesting how we have the advantage of having the Bible to reference numerous examples of people not trusting God, and when I read these stories I see how God always works it out for the benefit of the person He is leading. I find myself wondering why didn't they just trust God, they should know it's going to work out! But then I find myself doing the same thing, not always trusting God with the bigger and harder things, and trying to find a way to do it on my own. A great reminder to allow God to provide the means because if He brought you there, He will see you through it!