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Sunday, November 17, 2019

posted Nov 17, 2019, 8:43 PM by Site Administrator

LOOK UP AT THE HEAVENS AND COUNT THE STARS

 

Genesis 15:1-21

Key Verse 15:5

 

He took him outside and said, Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them. Then he said to him, So shall your offspring be.

 

First, I am your shield, your very great reward (1). In the previous passage, we studied about how Abram defeated the joint army of King Kedorlaomer by God's help, and how he rendered glory to God. He was willing to sacrifice millions ofdollars to reveal God's glory - that way, Abram was growing up in God powerfully. So, how did things go after that? Usually, we think that things must have been going very greatly, because Abraham came to know God more personally, and his faith in God was growing greatly. But that's not the case. Instead, things were going very terribly in the heart of Abram. Abram was suffering from fear, sense of loss, and fatalism; his situation was so terrible that God visited him and tried to comfort him. Look at verse 1. Let's read this verse together: 

 

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.

 

God said to him, I am your shield, showing him that God was protecting him and thereby terrible things would not happen to him. Abram was fearful as he anticipated revenge from his enemies. The four kings might attack him anytime. Actually,Abram was not a match for his enemies. If they attacked Abram, his whole household would be destroyed. But God comforted him, saying, I am your shield. God was protecting him; his life was not at the mercy of his enemies, but in God's hands. Abram thought about terrible things happening in his life, but such things would not happen, because God was protecting him. Instead, good things would happen. If anything happened, then, with God’s approval and with God’s good intention, such as the famine in the promised land.

 

Life comes with a lot of dangers – we hear terrible news endlessly - shooting rampage at school, at work, and on the streets, terrorists’ attacks, car accidents, weird diseases, hurricane, flood, earthquakes, and even lightning; due to the burden of life, many people commit suicide. Indeed, life is like going through a mine field – very dangerous and scary. People struggle hard to dodge all these dangers. But the Bible says that the very thing the wicked dread overtakes them. (Prob 10:24) There is such tremendous anxiety, fear and stress. But when we live as God’s covenant people, we have this confidence that God is our shield. At the end of Matthew’s gospel, Jesus says to all believers, Go and make disciples of all nations,… Surely I am with you always to the very end of the age. As we serve this will of God – go and make disciples of all nations, we have this confidence that Jesus is with us, guiding us, helping us and protecting us. Our life will not end because of some mistakes we make, because of some unexpected disasters, or because of some people are angry at us. Our life is in God’s hands. This gives us such peace in our soul. Live as God’s covenant people, and God is your shield. Go and make disciples of all nations, and Jesus is with you. This is far better than purchasing all kinds of insurances – health insurance, auto insurance, fire insurance, earthquake insurance, terrorism insurance, travel insurance, and even life (actually, death) insurance.

 

God also said to him, I am your very great reward. Until then, Abram had pursued God wholeheartedly, leaving his country, his people, and his father’s household, giving up everything and starting all over again in a foreign land as an alien, and willing to taste the loss to remain in the promised land. And as we learned in the previous chapter, after being inspired through his Bible study with Melchizedek, Abram bravely sacrificed millions of dollars to put what he learned in to practice. He was confident.He was zealous for God. Yet, what had he gained thus far? Nothing tangible! Instead, after the war, he received many bills, but he didn’t have a penny left in his pocket. He also heard some of his men groaning for the injury they had had in the battle. Abram was suffering from the sense of loss. But God said to him, I am your very great reward. God didn't say, I will be your very great reward, but I am your very great reward. Present tense! Abram already had his very great reward. How do you feel when you have your very great reward? Let’s say, you worked for your boss 4 hours, and then he pays you $200.00 for each hour, so total $800.00 for 4 hours’ work. How do you feel? You are so happy and thankful. So, since Abram had his very great reward, he must be very happy and thankful. Yet, instead, he was so unhappy; he was sorrowful and depressed, suffering from the deep sense of loss. Certainly, Abram was missing something – that’s what God wanted to help him about, that was, God was his very great reward.

 

In our Christian life, reward is a very important matter.Because of this reward matter, Abram wept and laughed. Because of this reward matter, we also laugh and weep. When we have many tangible fruits in serving God’s work such as a good job, a happy family and many sheep growing under our care, we are so happy and full of vision; but when we don’t have many fruits, we are so discouraged and lose appetite. Even after years’ struggle to do God’s work, we often remain fruitless, and thereby, we are so depressed, and we cry out to God, saying, Lord, why don’t you work with me? Why don’t you save souls through me? We are frustrated; we are sorrowful. In the service of the Lord, webecome just like Abram in the passage. Understanding our desire and agony, God visits us and comforts us, saying, I am your very great reward. God shows us that we already have our very great reward, and thereby, we must be very happy and thankful. God is our very great reward. If you are still sad and suffer from the sense of loss, God asks youAm I not enough for you? What do you say? Isn’t God enough for you? You have your very great reward – God Himself!

 

What does it mean that God is our very great reward? It means that serving God itself is our very great reward. Others serve money, their filthy dreams for success, pleasures and fame, but we serve the One and Only True God, and thereby, we are identified with Him as God’s servants, Jesus’ disciples. This is our very great reward. As we serve God, as we pursue God’s will and purpose as his servants, our life carries real meaning and value; as we and God pursue one same purpose and goal, we have life together with God, being his business partners in his kingdom purpose. This is such a great privilege. As we struggle together with God, in pursuing the same goal with Him, we talk with Him, discuss with Him, and we come to experience Him and know Him more and more. As we have life together with Him, we are being transformed into holy and righteous people just like God Himself. As we serve God’s kingdom work, indeed, God Himself is our very great reward. As God’s covenant, we all have this very great reward today. How happy we are! How thankful we are! We are really blessed!

 

Abram served God so that he would get something from God – ultimately speaking, until then, to him, God was not the end, but the means for his real purpose, that was a son. If God gave him a son after Abram had served God wholeheartedly for 20 years,Abram would be really happy, saying, Thank you! Any time, just call me! Abram thought that a son would be his very great reward. That’s what he had pursued in serving God. When he did so, the problem was that he laughed and wept because of a son matter. When God did not give him a son despite his efforts and struggle, he was deeply troubled, frustrated, and depressed; he doubted and complained. That way, he would remain as a cry baby. But then, in today’s passage, God showed him what his very great reward was, which he must really seek – God Himself. He already had this very great reward, so no reason to be sad or depressed; instead, he had a great reason to be happy and thankful. Moreover, when God was fully given to him, he would indeed be like God Himself, in his way of thinking, in his words and actions, so holy and righteous, so patient, kind, meek and loving. God’s creation purpose would be fulfilled in his life, and God’s glory would be revealed through him.

 

Today, you serve God wholeheartedly. You struggle hard to do God's work - despite many rejections, you keep asking people if they are interested in studying the Bible with you; even though your sheep are so sinful, rebellious, never appreciating how much you sacrifice your time, money and even your youth for them, you keep teaching them the Bible with such patience, swallowing all sorrows and pains by yourself. In doing all these, as you serve God so sacrificially this way, what do you want to gain? What reward are you looking for? Money, maybe, 7 million dollars after 20 years' service? Maybe, worldwide fame as a great evangelist like Billy Graham? Or, maybe, beautiful marriage or a happy family? But today, God says, I am your very great reward.

 

Second, Look up at the heavens and count the stars (2-21). How did Abram respond? Look at verses 2 and 3. O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus? You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir. Even though God taught such profound truth, Abram totally missed the point, because his heart was preoccupied with something else. He said, What can you give me since I remain childless? He had thought about his life of faith and what God could do for him as he had pursued him wholeheartedly, and almost concluded that God was not capable to help him with his serious son problem. Based on this present reality, he thought about his future, and about what the ultimate outcome of his life would be, and the conclusion was that eventually, one of his servants would inherit everything he had. At this, he was really frustrated. In his eyes, he was struggling hard eventually for his servant! What a fatalistic life it was that he was living for his servant! In his dark tent, Abram had been contemplating all these fatalistic and doubtful thoughts, with such a serious look in his face. Satan was plowing his heart, scattering the seeds of doubt and fatalism; then the seeds sprouted, blossomed and bore fruits in Abram’s heart. Satan was manipulating his mind completely. It was indeed a spiritual crisis. God noticed what's going on and visited him and helped him as his shepherd.

 

Look at verse 4. Let’s read this verse together: 

 

Then the word of the LORD came to him: This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.

 

Abram, based on the present challenging condition, thought about his future and drew a terrible conclusion. But God confirmed with him that things would not go so terribly that way; instead, things would go very well – a son coming from his own body would be his heir. When people lose their faith, when doubt smears into their hearts, they usually think of the worst scenario possible, which usually never comes trueMaybe, that’s our tendency too. And when that kind of thinking is based on some facts such as the present reality, we are really depressed. Then, people, sitting in their dark room, contemplate all these dark thoughts and they look really terrible. Then, their shepherds visit them and try hard to convince them that things will not go so bad that way, but things will go far better than that, saying, Don't worry. God will bless you. Your life will be great. That’s what God did for his sheep, Abram. Look at verse 5. Let's read this verse together:

 

He took him outside and said, Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them. Then he said to him, So shall your offspring be.

 

It was not good for Abram to stay in a dark tent, entertaining dark thoughts all the way. So, God took him outside for refreshment. Sometimes, when Satan is manipulating their minds, they stay in their dark apartment, entertaining all kinds of dark, doubtful and negative thoughts; at that time, even their faces become dark, not good at all. So, we visit them and take them out to the basketball court, or we go and eat Vietnamese noodle; in this way, we try to refresh their minds. Then, God commanded him, Look up at the heavens and count the stars-if indeed you can count them. Thus far, what Abram had been doing was to look down on the difficult present reality and count the losses all the way. Everything was based on the present reality, which was very challengingGod did not want him to see things in that way, because things would not go that way, because God was in his life and would do great things for him. Instead, God gave him this command to look up at the heavens where God dwelled, and where angels flew, and count the stars; think about something twinkling, something beautiful, something brilliant; fill your mind with such brilliant things. Then, God added, So shall your offspring be. God wanted Abram to think about something beautiful and wonderful, especially, great things God would do for him. Instead of counting all the losses and terrible things which never will come true, count what great things God can do for you; count what God will do for you. Count how glorious it will be when God fulfills his vision, his promises for you - great salvation work occurs through you; people, thousand upon thousand keep coming to you to hear the word of God; many great world class spiritual leaders are established under your care; they serve the whole world, pioneering churches; and you support them through Skype Bible studies, and once in a while, you have the world mission report with them, inviting all the Christian leaders in America and in the world; great spiritual revival occurs in and through your ministry. Count these glorious things, which God will do for you. Dream dreams. This was God’s command for Abram. This is God’s command for us. Indeed, God’s people are dreamers, visionaries.

 

Look up at the heavens and count the stars. Abram was suffering from the present difficult reality. But God did not want him to dwell in it, on the earth, but in heaven, by looking up at the heavens; God did not want Abram to be limited and controlled by the present reality but live by the future glory, by counting, by thinking about great things God would do for him - God wanted him to live his life in that way. This is how we Christians must live our life as children of God. Don't look down on the earth and count the losses, or difficult reality, but look up at the heavens and count the stars; think about what great things God will do for you, and how glorious it will be when God fulfills his vision for you. When you do so, you will not be controlled by the present reality; instead, despite challenging circumstances, you see a great vision for your life, and pursue it with such great passion and spirit. In this way, you overcome the world and live as children of God. Then, as you seek God’s purpose in such great spirit, God canwork with you and do great things for you. Then, one day, you will see God fulfilling His vision upon your life, and you will find yourself standing at the heavenly shore gloriously. Through Habakkuk Bible study, we learned that God’s people must live by faith; that’s the principle. Then, in today’s passage, we see how that principle is applied in our practical life – instead of focusing on the present reality, look up at the heavens and count the stars, so shall your offspring be. This is how we Christian can live by faith; this is how we overcome the world. This is Christian's way of life.

 

How did Abram respond? Look at verse 6. Let's read this verse together:

 

Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

 

At God's command, Abram began to count the stars - one star, two stars, three stars,... As he was trying to count the stars, his mind was off of all those terrible and negative ideas. Instead, as he was counting the stars, focusing on beautiful and twinkling things, God's words, So shall your offspring be, came to his heart. He was happy and thankful that God would give him so many children, like the stars in the universe. So, Abram believed the LORD, and God was very pleased with Abram's faith in Him that He credited his faith to him as righteousness. When you apply for the credit card, the company checks out your qualification, and based on that, they give you some credit, maybe, $5,000.00 or $7,000.00. But when God checked out Abram’s application, He was so pleased with it that He gave him the maximum credit to be called a righteous man. A few minutes ago, Abram lost faith and complained and doubted terribly. But in a few minutes later, Abram acquired righteous standing before God, all because of his faith in God's promise - God was really pleased with his faith. This is how we can please God - by faith in God's promises for our own life despite seemingly challenging reality. The righteous will live by faith from first to last.

 

This passage shows Abram’s greatness very well. He was childlike, in responding to God’s words. When Adam was in a big trouble, God came to him and gave him his words. But instead of responding to it positively, he said this and that, excusing himself and blaming others, even God; Eve was the same. When God had Bible study with Cain, Cain showed even the worse response, talking back, and hardening his heart. Instead of responding positively, all these people said, Blah, Blah, Blah, Because of this, because of that, What about this? What about that? God could not guide them properly. But Abram was different. Even if he was in terrible condition, even if he had his own idea, even if he had already drawn a conclusion, once God pointed out his error, Abram responded very positively. He was really a good sheep, very teachable. Because of that, God could guide him continuously, and eventually Abram grew to be a spiritual giant. They say that in the school of learning, attitude is everything. When you have the attitude of Adam, Eve, or Cain, even God cannot lead you continuously, and you remain as your own men to the end. But when you have the attitude of Abram, you are God’s good sheep, and God can lead you continuously, and you will grow up.

 

Look at verse 7. God said to him, I am the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it. As Abram believed in the LORD and God was so pleased with him and thereby, credited his faith as righteousness, it seemed that the episode was over. But God was so pleased with him that, after everything was over, He showed Abram that from the beginning, He had really a good and great plan for him to take possession of the land – that’s why he called him out of Ur of the Chaldeans. God’s point was that Abram should not worry about anything – God had a good intention for him and thereby, everything would go wonderfully. At this, Abram said, O Sovereign LORD, how can I know that I will gain possession of it? He wanted God to give him something tangible to confirm this promise of the land. So the LORD said to him, Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon. Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. God never mentioned about cutting them in two or arranging the halves opposite each other. Why did Abram do that? When God mentioned about these items – a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, immediately, Abram knew what God was talking about – God was going to seal his promise of the land with a ritual people did in those days. Today, if we want to seal a contract, we hire a lawyer, and let him draw the contract paper, and both parties sign in it, then, it is binding. In those days, the contracting parties cut those animals in two, arranged the halves of the carcasses opposite each other, and they passed between the piles of the carcasses, calling down the fate of those animals on themselves, had any of them violated the terms and conditions of the contract. (Jerem 34:18) It was a solemn contract ritual. That’s what God was going to do. God didn’t need to do so, but He would simply say to Abram, Don’t worry. I will do it. Just trust in me. But because Abram requested something tangible, God was going to do this, even human ritual, just to comfort his servant. That’s how God treated Abram. God is really tender. When you live as His covenant person, God treats you this way. 

 

In verses 12 through 16, we see God coming to Abram and telling him about what would happen to his descendants – slavery in Egypt for four hundred years, Exodus, then, the conquest over the Canaanites to punish the sin of the Amorites. If God talked to him about these things when Abram lost his faith, Abram would not consider it at all, saying, Four hundred years later?! I don’t care. Just give me a son! But because Abram believed in God’s promise of many children as numerous as the stars in the sky, God could talk about what would happen to them. 

 

Then, in verses 17 through 21, we see God’s presence passing between the pieces of the carcasses, and God telling Abram the specific boundaries of the promised land, with specific tribal names. In this way, as Abram believed, more revelation of God’s plan was given to him.

 

Accept God’s great vision for you and dedicate yourself to it. Then, you will find that God himself is your shield, your very great reward. God never says that you will not have trouble as God’s covenant people. But He promises his protection and his great reward for you. When challenges come, when you reach the limit, God encourages you to look up at the heavens and count the stars so  that you will not be discouraged or controlled by the challenging reality. Instead, by doing so, you may be full of spirit, thanks and joy in seeking his will and purpose. That way, you will overcome the world and live as his covenant people. 

 

One Word:Look Up At The Heavens And Count The Stars! 

 

 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

posted Nov 10, 2019, 2:22 PM by Site Administrator

GOD MOST HIGH, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH

 

Genesis 14:1-24

Key Verses 14:19,20

 

19and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

 

First, “Melchizedek, a priest of God” (1-18). Genesis chapter 14 describes the power structure of the Middle East in Abram’s time. Kedorlaomer king of Elam, had subjected all the nations in the Palestine area for 12 years. Elam was an ancient Babylonian kingdom in Mesopotamia, close to the Persian Gulf, modern day Iran. But in the thirteenth year, the five kings of the Palestine, Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela, teamed up and rebelled against him. They refused to pay the tribute to Kedorlaomer. So in the fourteenth year, Kedorlaomer started his military campaign with three other kings allied with him. They traveled all the way from Mesopotamia to Haran, modern day, Syria, following the Fertile Crescent, between the two rivers, the Euphrates River, and the Tigris River. Then, they first, defeated all the Trans-Jordan countries, the east side of the Jordan River - the Rephaites in Ashtoreth Karnaim, the Zuzites in Ham, the Emites in Shaveh Kiriathaim and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El Paran near the desert. When we check out the map, El Paran is located far south, and is the place where the Israel people after exodus from Egypt wandered for forty years. After conquering the entire Trans-Jordan countries as far as the desert of Paran, they turned around and started their conquest on the west side of the Jordan, beginning with the Amalekites, and the Amorites. Then, the five kings of this area marched out and drew up their battle lines in the Valley of Siddim, that is, the Dead Sea, against Kedorlaomer and his allies - five against four. Who won? The four kings from Mesopotamia won; the four kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; they also carried off many people as captives. Among them was Lot, Abram’s nephew. Lot sought a materialistic and pleasure-seeking city life; maybe, for several years after leaving the promised land, he enjoyed fun and prosperity; maybe, he was excited about the city life. But in one day, he lost everything and he himself was captured as a POW (Prisoner of War). Certainly, it is not a good idea to go beyond the boundary of God’s will and purpose upon our life for whatever reason there may be - marriage, or career or business.

 

          One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Abram called out the 318 men born in his household and other people who were allied with him, and went in pursuit as far as Dan that was 20 miles north of Galilee, total, it was about 100 miles, about four days’ journey. Abram divided his men, and at night, he attacked them. His tactic worked, and he routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and the other people. The whole area of the Palestine was in the war, and through this, Abram became the emerging hero of the time.

 

           Look at verses 17 and 18. When Abram returned to his hometown with all people and goods he had recovered from the four kings, many people came to welcome and escort him. Maybe, they prepared a parade for him through the town. People probably, shouted, “Hail Abram! Hail Abram! Our savior!” Among them were two representatives. One was Bera king of Sodom, and the other, Melchizedek, king of Salem. Bera was the world’s agent, Satan’s agent, while Melchizedek was God’s agent. What Abram did was really heroic; he became their savior, new hero. This would bring great impact on Abram’s life. At that time, both the world and God sent their agents. According to how Abram respond to them, his entire life would change.

 

Verse 18 gives us a brief introduction of Melchizedek. He was king of Salem. The word, “Salem,” means, “peace.” Most Jewish commentators affirm that Salem was the old name for Jeru-salem, which means, “teaching of peace.” He was king of peace; Jesus is called, “Prince of Peace.” He was king of Jerusalem, and Jesus is the king of Jerusalem forever. He was priest of God Most High. At first, we are shocked that there was a priest of God in Abram’s time. But as we have studied the book of Genesis, we can understand this. About 370 years passed since Noah’s flood, and as of the time of Abram, there were still many people who had kept the knowledge of God and worshiped Him. Melchizedek was king of Jerusalem, and at the same time, he was a priest of God, indicating that there were many people whom he ministered over. Probably, all his people were worshipers of God, and he served them.

 

          It is very shocking to notice that, even if there were many worshipers of God, even Melchizedek, priest of God, who was fully dedicated to God, who knew God very well and he was already living in the promised land, even an influential leader, God chose an idol worshiper, Abram, for his redemption work. God chose an idol worshiper who did not know God at all; God called him up to the promised land and wrestled with him in various ways. That’s really amazing. Why did God do so? We don’t know why. Nonetheless, we see that God did the same thing to us. There were many others who were more qualified than us, many young Christians who were sincere and even devout; yet, God did not choose them. But He chose us while we were messing up in darkness; while we did not show any desire for God, while we had no interest in Him, He chose us and wrestled with us all the way until we recognized Him in our life and accepted his love for us. And because of that, today, we are living as God’s people, God’s servants, doing His salvation work. This is indeed marvelous in our eyes. Why did he do so? I don’t know. But nonetheless, we are happy and thankful for choosing us and calling us and using us for his salvation work. It is God’s marvelous grace upon you and me. When we think about this, we realize that we have nothing to boast about ourselves, even when we perform well, even when we produce great fruits. Yet, we have one thing to boast about, that is, God’s marvelous grace upon our life. The Bible says, “Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”” (1Co 1:31)

 

          Melchizedek was a priest of God. About six hundred years later, Aaron and his descendants would be designated as priesthood. But even before Aaron was born, there was another priesthood, starting from Melchizedek, king of Salem. This shows that, in God’s redemption history, there are two lines of priesthood: One is Aaron’s priesthood that goes down through his biological descendants, and the other is Melchizedek’s priesthood. Who would be the next priest in the order of Melchizedek? Psalm 110:4 says, “The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”” God appointed Jesus to be the high priest for all of his believers, in the order of Melchizedek. So Jesus is our priest in the order of Melchizedek. There are many priests in the order of Aaron, but they are the shadow of the real one, the priesthood of Melchizedek. There are also many man-made priests based on degrees and positions, but they are fake priests. Jesus alone is our priest who stands between God and us.

 

          Moreover, the book of Revelation proclaims that Jesus has made all his believers priests and kingdoms, saying, “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father-- to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.” (Rev 1:5-6) In nature, we were not Jews, let alone, priests. You cannot become God’s priests by going to seminary and obtaining a degree as so many people think and pretend to be; but priesthood comes from Jesus. So when you believe in Jesus, you are called to be priests so that you can serve your God and His will. All believers are priests thanks to Jesus Christ, showing that we Christians must not live an ordinary life as common civilians, but we must live for God as his priests, holy and righteous. The apostle Peter shouts, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Pet 2:9) So when you believe in Jesus, you are no longer ordinary people; so, don’t live an ordinary life; you must live as priests, serving God’s will and purpose. Melchizedek was a historic person who ruled in Salem as king, and he carried the image of Jesus Christ as the priest, the shadow of Jesus’ eternal priesthood.

 

Verse 18 says, “Melchizedek brought out bread and wine.” At the last supper, Jesus gave his disciples bread, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body,” and a cup of wine, saying, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mt 26:26-28) Melchizedek was God’s messenger for Abram.

 

 

Second, “God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth” (19-24). What did Melchizedek say to Abram? Look at verses 19 and 20. Let’s read these verses together:

 

19and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

 

Melchizedek’s main teaching was that God had delivered his enemies into his hands. In his teaching, Melchizedek described God as God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. The expression, “God Most High” shows that God is the Ultimate Ruler, in control of everything. With this expression, Melchizedek taught Abram that his victory over four kings was not gained by his own skillful tactic or strength, but by God’s help. He made it clear that God had delivered the four kings into Abram’s hands. Through this, he taught Abram that he must render glory to God instead of taking glory for himself. The expression, “Creator of heaven and earth” shows that God is the Ultimate Owner of everything, including the material possessions Abram had acquired in the war. Now Abram won a smashing victory over the most dangerous and formidable enemies of all people in that area, and he was rising as the hero of the time. His victory could affect his future life greatly. At that time, Melchizedek, priest of God, taught him not to take glory for himself, but render glory to God. That’s what all shepherds teach their sheep about.

 

Here, we learn that God is God Most High, the Ultimate ruler of everything; He was in control in everything. God is God Most High in our life, meaning, He has been in control. Everything has happened according to God’s good and perfect plan; there was no mistake, no accident. Everything worked perfectly so that today, we can live as God’s servants. When we realize that God is God Most High in our life, we can see our life with God’s sovereign purpose, then, suddenly all sorrows disappear and we can forgive all those who have been in our way. Indeed, we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works God prepared in advance for us to do. (Eph 2:10)

 

God is also Creator of heaven and earth, the Ultimate Owner of everything. He is the Owner of everything you own. What do you have? Cell phone, laptop computer, car, shoes, clothes, money, and life and talent. God is the Owner. What is your cell phone made of? Some metals, semi-conduct, plastic, and others, which God made. If you want to be the owner of anything, try it, but make sure that you get your own dirt. God is the Owner of our life, and everything we have. So, we must use all things we have for the owner; we must live for God. This is how we must live our life – for God. God proclaims in the Bible, “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.” (Col 1:16)

 

How did Abram respond? Verse 20 says that Abram gave a tenth of everything. It was his first Bible study, and it was such an eye-opening moment. He had never heard such expressions about God – God is God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. He was so amazed and thankful, realizing that God had been with him and helped him. So, out of thanks, he gave a tenth of everything. Here, we see one tenth offering, called “tithing.” There are many kinds of offerings - thanks offering, special offering, freewill offering, burnt offering, firstfruits, and one tenth offering. Among all these, one tenth offering is very unique, and at the same time, the most basic offering. Bringing one tenth offering is the expression of one’s acknowledgment that all things he or she has earned is from God. God has given you all things, so, you bring him back one tenth of them as an expression of your thanks and faith in him.

 

Today, many Christian pastors talk about the challenge churches have – only less than 3% of churchgoers do tithing. Some people don’t do tithing, saying, “In the New Testament period, we are free from the law.” But as Abram’s case shows, tithing was there even before the law was given, showing that it is something very fundamental, which worshipers of God come to naturally consider and do. If anyone does not do tithing, certainly it is not the matter of theology, or of the New Testament or the Old Testament, but the matter of heart – love of money and/or fear – eventually, it is the expression of lack of faith in God. One person asked during Bible study, “How did Abram know about tithing?” Maybe, even if he lived as an idol worshiper, he had heard about what God-believing people were doing such as attending worship service or praying to God or tithing. Fundamentally, all things we acquire have come from God – He has given us this life, this body, this talent, this strength, and he has enabled us to get a job and make money. This is our faith in God. We are very thankful for his provision and blessing, so we bring one tenth offering to God. It is fundamentally, all humans’ duty before God.

 

Abram gave Melchizedek one tenth of everything he had gained - this showed that Abram had accepted Melchizedek’s teaching - God gave him the victory, and God was the Owner of all the possessions he had. Abram didn’t say that he had worked hard; he didn’t take glory for himself; instead, he rendered glory to God for the victory he had gained.

 

Then, Bera king of Sodom came to him, and said, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” His suggestion sounded reasonable. Abram saved so many people. Would he keep them for himself, separating them from their families? No. He would certainly send them back to their family. And it was actually, their wish that Abram would take all the goods he had recovered for himself as his reward. He did really a good job, and he deserved such reward. That’s what the king of Sodom suggested. It sounded reasonable, but behind the scene, the real message was that Abram would take credit for the victory - you worked hard and did a good job, so you deserve such reward. It was from a humanistic point of view. Melchizedek taught Abram to render glory to God for the victory, but Bera advised him to take credit for himself for the victory.

 

What was Abram’s response? Look at verses 22 and 23. Let’s read theses verses together:

 

But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’“

 

          Abram was a good Bible student that after studying the word of God with his shepherd Melchizedek one on one, he used the exactly same expression he had learned from his teacher to the king of Sodom, saying, “God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.” Abram refused his offer. He refused to take anything from the plunder he had acquired. He refused to take glory for himself for the victory. Instead, he rendered glory to God who gave him the victory in the war. He put what he learned into practice. Learning of God as God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth was amazing and glorious; he enjoyed the Bible study. Then, when God’s word was in his heart, he was bold, strong, and confident - he was willing to sacrifice millions’ dollars that were already in his pocket so that he could make it clear to everyone that it was God Most High who gave him the victory and that God would make him rich. The king was shocked for an unexpected response and all people around them were amazed. In this way, Abram revealed God’s name to the people of the world and rendered glory to God.

 

Abram was young in spirit. Until this time, in his relationship with God, it was Abram who asked God for help and provision all the time, saying, “Give me this,” “Give me that,” and “Help me.” In his relationship with God, he was like a little child, asking his father for help all the time. But now Abram learned to do something for God such as giving one tenth to God’s servant Melchizedek and sacrificing a lot of money for God’s name’s sake, being concerned about God’s name and God’s glory. In order to render glory to God, Abram gave up multi million dollars that were already in his pocket. He was like a young boy having grown up from a poor family, turns down a fantastic job offer - $300,000 yearly salary with one month paid vacation and stock option as a sign up bonus - only to serve God’s will. In this way, Abram was growing up as a mature man of God.

 

We Christians must not remain as little children all the time. When you are children, you think like children, talk like children, and act like children; so, you say, “Give me, help me and bless me.” It is okay. But if you remain as children continually, something is really wrong. Think about 35 year old son keeps asking his parents, “Give me, help me, and bless me.” Then, when he does not get as much as he wants, he complains, doubts and blames his parents. So many Christians live that way continually – something is really wrong with them. As time goes by, we must grow up in Jesus as mature sons and daughters of God who are concerned about our Father’s name and our Father’s business. Jesus encourages us to pray, “Hallowed be your name, your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” His point is not that we would memorize the Lord’s prayer and recite it once a week, but that we would live for these purposes, being so concerned about revealing God’s name to the world, serving God’s kingdom purpose and fulfilling God’s will on our life. Such Christians are mature sons and daughters of God.

 

One Word:   God Most High, Creator of Heaven And Earth

 

Sunday, November 3, 2019

posted Nov 4, 2019, 5:35 AM by Site Administrator

FAMINE AND ABUNDANCE

 

Genesis 12:10-13:18

Key Verse 13:12

 

Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom.

 

First, “Abram called on the name of the LORD (12:10-13:4). Look at verse 10. Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. Wait a minute! Abram followed Gods guidance, then, he had a famine, even severe one?! Yes, thats what happened to him. Usually, we think that if we follow Gods guidance faithfully, everything will go smooth – no pain, no trouble, and no nothing, but only good things. But thats not true. What God desires is not that we live like chihuahua, well pampered in a family, but like lions and tigers in the field, maybe, hungry, but roaring and shaking the ground. As we live as Gods people, following his guidance, we too go through many challenges and difficulties. But in God, such challenges and difficulties have meaning and purpose that through all those challenges, we have a chance to meet God and experience Him, and thereby, we grow up in Him as mature people, developing godly characters and value system. So, the Bible says, “My son, do not make light of the Lords discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” (Heb 12:5-6)

 

When Abram made such a huge decision to give up his already secured life and cut off all human ties including his family ties, and went to Canaan, he must have expected something great in the promised land. But, instead, he had to live in a tent, as an alien, traveling here and there. Now, what was worse, there was a severe famineIn our terms, there was a great shortage of jobs that he could not get a job to support his family. Even native people were laid off in great scale. When he had such a challenge, he should have prayed to God for help, but nowhere in todays passage we see Abram praying to God for help. Why? It was because he did not know that kind of things – he was really a young sheep, not knowing God almost at all. Then, after experiencing more failures in finding a job and facing more financial difficulties in Canaan, he decided to go down to Egypt. In his eyes, that was the best option for his survival in the given situation. So he left the promised land and went down to Egypt. The idea of living as Gods covenant person was good; the idea of being a blessing for the whole world was good; thats what he pursued, even leaving his family ties and came to the promised land. Yet, lifes challenge was so great that he was blown away from the promised land

What Abram experienced in the promised land, the famine, is the fundamental challenge we face as we strive to live as the disciples of Jesus. Many people want to live as Gods covenant people, carrying Gods great vision for their lives; they want to serve God. But when they face this fundamental challenge - financial difficulty, they easily go down to Egypt, saying, Survival first. Instead of serving Gods mission wholeheartedly by entrusting their financial matter in Gods hands, they go after securing their future with a career. As a result, they fail to live as the disciples of Jesus, not because of any other reason, but because of their lack of faith in God. At the end of their life, all these people share the same testimony, saying, Ah, if I live again… Going down to Egypt for survival looks very practical, but it is never a good idea or right choice; it is not an option for Jesus disciples. Don’t be blown away by this challenge. Jesus understands how important this matter is to his disciples; thats why he talks about this matter extensively in 16 verses, in Matthew 6:19-34. Jesus conclusively, says, So, do not worry, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or What shall we wear? For the pagans run after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. As God hired us and sent us into his work place, we can be rest assured that He will not let us die for starvation - He is not a bad boss, but He is our good God; He is just and fair. We must believe that God knows our situation and that He will certainly help us with what we need. By faith in God, we must seek Gods kingdom purpose first, and then, we see that God provides us with everything we need. Thats how we can live as Jesus disciples; otherwise, we live as bread seekers just like all others in the whole world, and that is the cursed life. Stay in the promised land no matter what; endure hardship by seeking His kingdom first and in time, you will see God taking care of your practical needs.

 

How did Abrams life in Egypt go? When he was coming to the promised land of Canaan, he had his hearts complete confidence of what he was doing, because he was obeying Gods command. Even though there were many obstacles such as the opposition from his family members, the inner pain of cutting the family ties, and the thought of never seeing them again, he had complete confidence in what he was doing; so, he packed everything and left, willing to give up literally, everything. He was unstoppable despite all odds. But now as he was leaving the promised land, he was not confident of what he was doing. It was not Gods will for him to leave the promised land no matter what. When this confidence of Gods will upon his life was gone from his heart, he became fearful. He was thinking about the worst scenario possible. Then, he begged his wife to say to others that she was his sister, not wife so that, even if she might be someone else wife, he might be treatedwell. What a terrible husband he was! When Adam lost Gods mission, he blamed his wife for his own wrongdoing. And now when Abram lost Gods mission, he tried to utilize his wife to save his skin! When brothers lose Gods mission, they become strange; they do not look like rulers of the world any longer, but really silly people who want to utilize their wives for their selfish gain. No lady values such silly men. Who are the best husband candidates? Those who have God’s mission! Those who have real faith in God! Those who obey God! They are cool, powerful and awesome. 

 

In Egypt, Sarai, Abrams wife, was taken into Pharaohs palace to be his wife, and Pharaoh treated Abram well and gave him sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels. At this, should Abram laugh, or should he weep? When he left Gods promised land, the worst scenario possible he had thought about came true; there, after losing his wife, he was sad and angry; but there was nothing he could do. He was hopeless.

 

But God intervened into the situation. God inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household; Pharaoh figured out why such plagues were on him and his family, and brought Sarai back to Abram, rebuked him for telling him a lie in regard to his wife, and gave him an order to leave Egypt. In this way, God arranged things so that Abram could not stay in Egypt, but he had to leave Egypt and go back to the promised land. What was the outcome of this whole episode? Look at chapter 13:1-4. Lets read these verses together:

 

1So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, with his wife and everything he had, and Lot went with him. 2Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold. 3From the Negev he went from place to place until he came to Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had been earlier 4and where he had first built an altar. There Abram called on the name of the LORD.

 

Through this famine training and his journey to Egypt, Abram experienced Gods protection and provision personally in the practical matter - in his most difficult time, God helped him – that was an eye-opening moment. When he was called in 12:1-3, he did not know God personally yet. But through this famine training and his journey to Egypt, now his eyes were opened toward God. So, Abram came back to Canaan. Verses 3 and 4 shows that Abram made his journey all the way back to the original place where he had first built an altar to the Lord. This shows his hearts decision very well - he was going to start all over again in the promised land with a new hearts decision - from that time on, he would never leave the promised land no matter what. Before this time, even if he came to the promised land, still he was weak and naive, because he was not planted in the promised land yet. So, when a challenge came, he was blown away; whenever a temptation came, he would be blown away. But as he understood Gods will and made his hearts decision to stay in the place where God called him absolutely, he was planted in the promised land firmly. He became like a kernel of wheat that fell to the ground – he would not move around any longer no matter what. Then, God could train him and refine him freely, and Abram would grow up in God as a mature man of God.

 

So many Christians do not understand the importance of this first step – being planted in the place God called them to. As a result, they just live as church-hoppers, looking for a better church continuously. Or just they live as those who enjoy Christian things, never having a chance to do something really great, never having a chance to live up to their true potential. I know one man who is like that. Even in his fifties, still he is a zealous Christian in his own eyes. Has he done anything really good in his Christian life? Nothing! He has just wasted his life. Be a kernel of wheat that falls to the ground! Have a hearts determination and stay in the promised land by any means, and God will help you and bless you greatly. 

 

Second, Abram lived in the promised land (13:5-18).In chapter 13, we see Abram and Lot having a conflict, because God blessed both of them so much and they had a lot of flocks and herds that the land could not support them while they stayed together. Famine was a problem, and abundance became a challenge too. When Abram lived as an idol worshiper, nothing carried any meaning – they just came and went. But then, as he lived as Gods covenant person, everything carried meaning and purpose – famine or abundance. At this challenge, Abram suggested Lot to part company, saying, Lets part company. If you go to the left, Ill go to the right; if you go to the right, Ill go to the left. Abram could have chosen the best land first, because he was Lots uncle- he had seniority. But if he did so, possibly, Lot would not be happy with him, and their relationship would be damaged. But since Abram gave Lot the first choice to choose the best land, Lot had no problem at all. In this way, Abram valued his relationship with Lot more than securing the better land. 

 

What was Lots choice? Look at verse 10. 10Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, toward Zoar. (This was before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.)The expression, Lot… saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered… shows that his first concern in choosing the land was how to manage his flocks and herds. What about Gods will and plan for his life? He was not concerned about them. He did not think about Gods vision for his life or how to please God, but how to manage his material possessions properly. Thats his attitude in a selective situation. Also, verse 10 shows his mentality very well, saying, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt. The phrase, like the garden of the Lordtalks about his desire for God. He wanted to live in the Garden of the Lord, enjoying Gods blessings, having fellowship with God, and serving Gods mission. He never thought about abandoning God. But at the same time, the phrase, like the land of Egypt indicates how much he had been influenced by the Egyptian lifestyles, when he went down to Egypt for survival from the famine - the Egyptians highly civilized life and their pleasure seeking lifestyles, such as enjoying parties, going to movie theaters, and watching sports games. He had been fascinated, and realized what he wanted. When the whole plain of the Jordan looked like the land of Egypt, he made his mind very clear. In the time of decision making, he chose to enjoy good things of both God and the world. That was the beginning of his compromise. In verse 12, we see a great contrast between Abram and Lot. Lets read this verse together:

 

Abram lived in the land of Canaan, while Lot lived among the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom.

 

Abram remained in the Promised Land, but Lot left the Promised Land to secure the seemingly better land. When this challenge arose, Abram took down deeper root in Gods calling, deciding to stay in the promised land, willing to swallow all related losses. But Lot was blown away from the promised land, because what he really loved was not God or Gods vision, but money, and his own materialistic and pleasure-seeking life. 

 

Since Lot started his life of faith together with Abram, leaving his country, his people and his fathers household, he could have been blessed by God greatly just like Abram. But in todays passage, we see Lot compromising and leaving the promised land. At this time, he never intended to live in the city of Sodom, because the city had a notorious reputation - as a worshiper of God, it was never his intention to live there. But once he gave into his desire for a materialistic and pleasure-seeking life, this one compromise led him to another compromise, and then, another compromise, and then, another compromise. Then, very soon, we see him living in the city of Sodom in the next chapter. And eventually, he would lose everything, including all his money and wife, and end up living in a cave, bearing very shameful fruits. Once he left Gods promised land, really terrible things were waiting for him. But now, he did not know whats ahead of him because he was blinded by his desire for money and success

 

The Bible uses these two men, Abram and Lot, as a metaphor, teaching us how we believers should live our life. For the believers, there are two ways of life – the lifestyle of Abram that holds on to Gods promise and stays in Gods promised land without compromise, and the lifestyle of Lot that compromises here and there with the pleasures and things of this world. It seemed that Abram was too exclusive and stubborn, insisting in one way of life, whereas Lot was generous in his life of faith being able to communicate with others freely, and wise to enjoy good things of God and the world at the same time. What is really sad is that, today, the trend among Christians is Lots way of life; the absolute majority of believers walk in the footsteps of Lot. And it is very rare, very difficult to find even one believer who walks in the footsteps of Abram, holding onto Gods calling and pursuing Gods vision wholeheartedly. And since all believers are living in Lots way, sometimes we are confused if we too must follow the trend. Lots lifestyle is considered normal, whereas Abrams lifestyle is considered weird and abnormal. When a Christian boy decides to live like Abram, his Christian parents do all they can to stop him. Surely, the world is pervert and corrupt. The Bible says, Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.Christians, do not love the world, for when you love anything in the world - pleasure-seeking life or wealth, fame or your successor just a happy family life - it will lead you to compromise and eventually to a totally different life than God designed for you. Walk in the footsteps of Abram, accepting Gods calling and living according to Gods will and purpose, and God will bless you greatly.

 

After Lot had left him, God visited Abram. Look at verses 14 through 17. Lets read these verses responsively:

 

14The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. 15All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. 16I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. 17Go walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.

 

Gods counseling for Abram had two points. The first was about the land. God said to Abram, Lift up your eyes from where you are and look north and south, east and west. All the land you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. Even though Abram gave Lot the first choice in choosing the land, he felt sorry and suffered from the sense of loss when practically, Lot chose seemingly the best land - the whole plain of the Jordan. It was like you turn down a dream job offer for Gods mission, then, one of your classmates got it. Ouch! Even though Abram let go of that chance by faith, still it hurt. At that time, God appeared to him and assured him of the vast land. Indeed, God was sensitive to his sheeps condition. Jesus says, I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields-- and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. (Mk 10:29-30) The second point was about his offspring. Since Lots father, Haran, died earlier and Abram didnt have any children, Abram regarded Lot as his son and loved him dearly. But Lot didnt regard Abram as his father. When a practical benefit was concerned, Lot left Abram, saying, “Thank you. Good bye.” Abram felt abandoned and was sure that he must have his own son. God told him, I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. God was Abrams shepherd who knew his sheep very well. After confirming his promises about the land and his offspring, God told Abram, Go walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you. Its not good for him to stay in his dark tent entertaining all kinds of dark thoughts. So God took him out, and let him check out what a great land God was giving to him. 

Often, we are like Abram, being sad or even depressed because of a certain thing, sometimes, the land, sometimes, a son, sometimes, sheep; we hope that God may help us by giving us those things. As shepherds, we want God to bless us with sheep. But instead, God gives us his words of promises, saying, “I will give you many sheep, “You will be fruitful.” His point is that, by believing in Gods promises of blessings, we may pursue it continually. Then, as we do so, God comes to have a chance to bless us greatly. When? At the right time, when we are ready. God wants us to live by faith in Him, even when there is no sign, even when there are no sheep in the pen. God will bless you and give you the land and the sheep abundantly. So, seek Gods kingdom and Gods righteousness continuously.

 

Verse 18 reads, “So Abram moved his tents and went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he built an altar to the LORD.” At Gods direction, Abram packed things and moved; he traveled from Bethel all the way to Hebron - Jerusalem area; he practically checked out the land and found that it was indeed vast and fertile. Then, he was very thankful for Gods promise of the land that he built an altar to the LORD, expressing his thanks to Him. Nothing in Abrams presentsituation had actually changed; Lot still had the seemingly better and vast land, and Abram did not yet have a child. But, when Gods word of promise came to Abram, and when Gods vision became real in his heart, everything changed. The sense of loss was gone from his heart. Instead, he was happy and thankful to live as Gods covenant person in the promised land. 

 

One Word: Be Planted In The Promised Land

 

 

 

 

Sunday, October 27, 2019

posted Oct 27, 2019, 7:51 PM by Site Administrator

YOU WILL BE A BLESSING

 

Genesis 11:10-12:9

Key Verses 12:1,2

 

The LORD had said to Abram, Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.

 

First, The genealogy from Shem to Abram (11:10-32).Genesis 11:10 is the beginning of the second half of the book of Genesis, which focuses on the patriarchs of faith – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It begins with the genealogy of Abram. Among the three sons of Noah, Abram belonged to Shem. His genealogy goes this way: Shem - Arphaxad - Shelah – Eber – Peleg – Reu – Serug – Nahor – Terah – Abram. Abram was born about 291 years after the flood, which occurred in 1656 and ended in 1657; from the creation, it was in the year 1948. As of that time, Noah was 892 years old, and he would live 58 years more. It is really shocking to notice that Abram was the contemporary of Noah! Actually, as of that time, most of his ancestors mentioned in today’s passage were still alive: Noah, Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah, Eber, Peleg, Reu, Serug, and NahorSo, if Abram invited his friend to his house, he would introduce his great ancestors to him, saying, This is my grandpa, Nahor; this is my great grandpa Serug, great great grandpa Reu, great great greatgrandpa Peleg, great great great great grandpa Eber, great greatgreat great great grandpa Shela, great great great great greatgreat grandpa Arphaxad,… The more shocking thing is that, many of them outlived Abram: After Abraham’s death, Shelah lived 3 years more, Shem 35 years more, and Eber 64 years more. In the previous passage, we learned that Eber was the representative of all Shem’s descendants; he was very fruitful and popular. So, as of the time of Abram, his family formed a huge community, and their town was called, the town of Eber, and all of them were called descendants of Eber, simply, Hebrews. Everyone knew it. That’s why in Genesis 14, the Bible simply describes Abram as the Hebrew. No explanation was necessary.

 

Abram was living in Ur of the Chaldeans, an ancient Babylonian city, located nearby the Persian Gulf in modern day Iraq. He was an idol worshiper, serving other gods; he was 75 years old, had no children because his wife Sarai was barren. It was a big problem. Since it was the new beginning, since there were not that many people, all people’s whole struggle was to produce many children; they married early, maybe, 18 or 20, and there was no birth control. Having more children meant to have more power and more labor. So, those who had many children were really powerful and even feared, but those who did not have many were despised and ignored. Then, what about Abram’s family who had no children at all? Abram was humiliated and despised. Maybe, family gathering was the most painful and humiliating moments for Abram. During Christmas season, all other families were full of joyful laughter, maybe, playing soccer within their family members, but Abram’s house remained so quiet. He was considered as a loser. Who could understand his agony? But in God’s eyes, this big problem of Abram was God’s chance to intervene into his life and guide him; then, everything would change. Actually, a lot of us came to experience God in the same way. In our lowliest time, when we reached the limit, when we could not go any longer, when the problem seemed so big, when we thought that we were complete losers, God came to us. Other people did not respond to God, but we responded. Then, everything changed. Light shone into our life, and we have seen the glory of God. Amazing things have occurred in our life and we are now really happy and thankful. When we think about this, we can see that we never know who is really blessed and who is not. We cannot judge anyone based on the present situation – job matter, marriage matter, family matter, or even sheep matter. The only thing is that the one who is with God is really blessed; he is a victor. 

 

The passage says that Terah at the age of 70, became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran. If we assume that Terah had Abram at the age of 70, then, when Abram came to the promised land at the age of 75; it was in the year 2023 since the creation of the world. That year was 2055 B.C. So, there are 4078 years of B.C., and 2019 years of AD, total 6097 years. This is the age of the earth, the length of human history. This is the age of the sun, the moon and the stars. As we study the book of Genesis, we find that the history of the earth is not so vague or abstract as many people suggest. There was no Chromanone, or Neanderthal, or Homo Sapience – just humans; there is no aliens, nothing like million years’ evolution or billion years’ universe forming, or prehistory period. Why do people come up with such things? All these are nothing but atheists’ struggle to remove God’s name from human society. What Charles Darwin’s evolution theory which was published exactly 160 years ago did was to make human history as something unreachable – million years or billion years – no longer real to human world or to human life, so no one would think about trying to figure out their real origin or their real history. They come up with unreachable numbers; now they suggest that the universe is like that, coming up with unreachable, unrealistic numbers of years and miles – billions upon billion miles and years. The world is advocating such things continually, coming up with a lot of crazy looking scientific and mathematical formulas and expressions – usually, they are not real. So, don’t be intimidated; don’t be deceived. In the Bible, human history is very clear and straight-forward. There is no fantasy, no vague things. Simply, God created the world in 7 days, and in the year 1656 since God’s creation of the worldthere was the flood that destroyed everything, and after that, Noah’s descendants were scattered all over the earth, because God confused their language. 

 

SecondGod’s command - Leave and go (12:1).Genesis 12 talks about God calling one man, named Abram.With him, God was starting his redemption plan, which was about the woman’s offspring crushing Satan’s head, based on Genesis 3:15. Since Adam’s transgression, about 2,000 years passed, but God did not forget his promise. This is really amazing. You have God’s promises. Hold them absolutely, because God will keep them. When? I don’t knw. Maybe, in 5 years, or maybe, in 2,000 years. But somehow God will keep it if you hold it firmly. God’s calling came to Abram in two parts – command and his promises. It was like a contract, saying, Do this, and I will do that. Abram did not know God that well, but one day, God appeared to him, and offered him his deal, saying, If you do these, I will do these things for you. Simon Peter was living as a fisherman, then, one day, Jesus intervened into his life and called him, saying, Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. Jesus offered Simon his contract, his deal; Simon read the terms and conditions of this offer very carefully, and accepted it; he left everything and followed him. God’s calling comes to us as his covenant, with command and promises. When you sign on this covenant by doing what you are commanded to do, then, God is bound to the terms and conditions of his covenant; in this way, when you accept God's covenant by doing what He asks you to do, you enter into a binding, legal contract relationship with God - you become God's covenant person, and God becomes your God. God is in heaven and we are here on earth; God is the Almighty Creator and we are just mortal humans; He is holy and we are not holy; He is Spirit, invisible, but we have this physical body. The difference between God and us, the gap between God and us is as big as the difference between heaven and earth. But amazingly, God offers his covenant to us so that by doing our end of the deal, we may enter a binding contract relationship with Him. This is how God establishes his relationship with us. God’s calling is essential in our life of faith to have real relationship with him. Otherwise, Christian life is vague and conceptual; at best, it is moralistic or religious. Don’t you want to have this binding relationship with God? Then, do what God commands you to do – your end of the deal!

 

Look at verse 1. Let’s read this verse together:

 

1The LORD had said to Abram, Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.

 

What is the content of this covenant, the terms and conditions of this contract between God and Abram? God’s command was, Leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. Leave and go! People think that since God is almighty, he can do all things even if they don’t do anything. So they refuse to repent, saying, If God wants, he will make it occur, and they pursue what they want. But that’s from their own unrepentant heart, not from God’s point of view. Later, all these people come to blame God for their failures and miserable life. In God’s eyes, Abram should not stay in his country and in his father’s household to live as a man of God; if he wanted a new life in God, then, he must leave his country, his people and his father's household. The new life Abram would have in God was not the extension or improvement of his old life; rather, it would be really a new life, with new foundation and in a new environment. 

 

Abram had to leave three things - his country, his people and his father's household. His country was Ur of the Chaldeans, an idol worship country - archeologists excavated this city and found more than 3,000 idols. Everything in this country was well arranged for idol worship; if there was a holiday, it was for idol worship; if there was a festival, it was for idol worship; their culture, laws and environment were all well arranged for idol worship. What would happen to Abram if he stayed there continually? He would naturally live as an idol worshiper. Leave that kind of bad environment so that you can have a new life in Jesus Christ. Also, as he lived in his own country, he felt secure; his country was like a security for him. Now God asked him to leave this old security so that only God might be his security; once he left his old security, then, he would learn to rely on God.

 

His people were the ones Abram had known thus far; as he lived there, he had come to know so many people - his Elementary school friends, high school friends, colleagues, his neighbors and his coworkers or business partners - socially, they came to have developed the same kind of value system, lifestyle, and hopes and vision, so indeed, they were his people. He was identified together with them, and his life would be defined with them also. If he stayed there with them, then, he would live as a member of their society continually, sharing the same value system and lifestyles with them. Now, if he wanted to have a new life in God, he must leave his people. Let's say, a gangster wants to have a new life in God. What should he do? He must not hangout with them any longer; he must leave them. Let's say a raver wants to have a new life in Jesus Christ. What must he do? He must not go to ravers' parties; he must not hang out with ravers any longer; instead, he must cut off his relationship with all the ravers; he must leave them. He must leave his town and go to other towns; or he must leave his country and go to other country as a missionary. If you want to have a new life in God, then, leave your people.

 

God also commanded him to leave his father's household. Amazingly, God asked him to cut off his family ties. Once he left his family this time, most likely in those days, he would never see them again in his life. That's what God commanded him to do as one of the conditions of his covenant. According to the record in Acts 7, Abram received God's calling while he lived in Ur of the Chaldeans; at that time, God did not mention about leaving his father's household, but only the first two - his country and his people. So, after receiving God's calling, since it was a big matter, he ran to his father and they had a family gathering to discuss about God's calling. They accepted God's calling and all together left Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the promised land. But when they came to Haran, modern day Syria, they decided to settle there - maybe, they were tired of moving; or they were not sure if the promised land would be better than Haran. Anyway, they decided to settle in Haran, instead of going to the promised land. Since Abram was a member of his family, he had to honor his family's decision, especially, his father's decision. As a result, God's plan for Abram was delayedThen sometime later, maybe 5 years, or 10 years or maybe 30 years, when Abram became 75 years old, God appeared to him and called him again. That’s when God mentioned about leaving his father’s household. Why? Because as long as Abram lived as a member of his family, he had to honor the decisions the family made. When his father said they would settle there, he had to stay there. As a result, God’s plan for Abram was delayed. God didn’t like that idea, so He said, Leave your father’s household.

 

This is very important. When we live as members of our family, we want to serve God, but stuff keeps coming up. This Saturday is your cousin’s daughter’s birthday! You even don’t know that cousin. Endless duties and responsibilities. As you struggle to take care of those things, you become so entangled, and you come to compromise here and there. Moreover, as you do so, you are already tired; you also have used a lot of time for such things that you lack time for anything else. Then, on top of that, you struggle to do God’s work. At that time, God’s mission becomes burdensome. That’s really a bad cycle. God says, Leave your father’s household. God wants you to be available for God alone, not available for anyone else. Live as good soldiers of Christ Jesus, who are not entangled by civilian affairs, but who want to please the commander.

 

The other command was: Go to the land I will show you.Once Abram accepted God's covenant and left his country, his people, his father's household, it did not mean that he could go wherever he liked; it did not mean that he would serve God however way he chose. Rather, once he left his country, his people and his father's household by accepting God's covenant, there was a specific place God had designed for him - he must go to that place - that place would be God's promised land for him, where God would fulfill his purpose upon Abram; otherwise, the covenant relationship between God and Abram would not be established, because God would not be bound to the terms and conditions of the covenant. This is the nature of God's calling - very specific and concrete. Many Christians live as endless wanderers hopping from one church to the next; it's all because they have not responded to God's calling; in their Christian life, there is no direction and no mission. They do not know what to do as Christians, so they keep doing some good looking things here and there, without any direction or without any real commitment. But when we accept God's calling, finally, our Christian life becomes very concrete, practical and real. Then we can see what to do, where to go and how to serve God as Christians. No longer endless cycle of attending worship service once a week, no longer just a vague moralistic life, but we know God's will and God's mission for us, and finally, our life has a clear direction to go and a mission to serve as a matter of life and death. Then, we pour out our heart and strength in serving God's mission; then, we have a chance to live up to our true potential – great things can occur through us; at that time, people around us are shocked and notice that we have changed and that we are different. 

 

In giving him the command to go to the land, God did not tell him about what kind of land he was going to have, whether good or bad. Instead, God wanted Abram to leave and go, by trusting in God alone. God was like saying, Just trust in me, you will have a better life. The righteous will live by faith not by calculation. If God showed him some pictures of the land, Abram would compare investment cost and profit, and based on the conclusion of his calculation, he might choose either way. God did not let him do so, but only by faith in God, Abram had to decide. 

 

Right now, what he had to sacrifice was indeed great – his career, his secured and comfortable life, all his friends and human-networks he had established thus far, and his family ties-very practical, tangible and important; on the contrary, the uncertainty of his future as the result of obeying God’s command was indeed great-nothing was tangible, and he did not have that much information about the new place he would go to, maybe, only name of the place. In this way, God challenged him to make his decision only by faith in God alone, not based on his calculation or comparison. God did not explain to him that much about the land at all. If he trusted in God, he could do that, otherwise, he would not be able to do so. This is the true nature of our life of faith. The righteous will live by faith; and if we shrink, he will be pleased with us. But we are not those of who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved. (Heb 10:38,39) 

 

Third, God’s promises of blessing (2-3). Look at verses 2 and 3. Let’s read these verses together:

 

I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

 

Verses 2 and 3 are God’s promises that would be applicable for Abram if he accepted the deal. In these two verses, we see the words, bless, blessed, and blessing repeated five times. This shows the nature of God’s calling very well, that is, God called Abram to bless him. Let’s check out God’s promises one by one.

 

God said to Abram, I will make you into a great nation.Practically, this meant that God would give him many children. Abram was childless and having a son was his life dream. Now God promised him that, if he lived according to God's plan and purpose, God would give him many children. Wow! What an attractive offer it must have been to Abram! Probably, Abram did not need to hear the rest of God’s promises. God really knew him, and thereby, He used the right key that unlocked everything. This is how God entered into our life – He gave us the very word that touched our hearts the most – with it as the key, He unlocked all the locks of defense mechanism we had built in our hearts, and made us completely vulnerable. There, so touched, out of such great thanks and joy, we wept and wept with tears and snots. God knew us really!

 

God said, I will bless you. God saying this was really significant. God’s real desire has always been to bless mankind. That’s what He did in Genesis chapters 1 and 2, making the manin His image, in His likeness, assigning him as ruler over all things, giving him the garden of Eden as his gift, and establishing marriage. God’s desire was to pour out blessings on humans. But on the contrary to his desireas the Judge of all, He had to curse mankind continually, because of man’s sin. He had to curse Adam and Eve in chapter. 3, Cain in chapter 4, then He had to destroy all peoples on earth with a flood in chapter 7, and then He had to confuse their language and scatter them over the surface of the earth. He was the righteous judge; He had to. But that’s not what He wanted. It must have been really painful for God to do so. Now God says, I will bless you! If you do what I ask you to do, I will bless you! That was God’s desire. God was really going to do it, only if he did what God commanded him to do. 

 

What does this mean, I will bless youSimply, it means your life will go very well! Strangely, you perform well in your school and get good grades; strangely your job matter goes well that you come to have a wonderful career. A lot of favors are poured out on you and everything goes very well - school, job, marriage, family, sheep, money, etc. Your children will grow well and healthy, and they will be influential. Your life will go very well; you will enjoy a wonderful life! This is what God promises, if you do what God wants you to do, if you live according to God’s will and purpose. We can be really confident about this, because it is really what God desires from the beginning – this is what God wants to do for you – I will bless you. Just do what God wants you to do.  

 

God says, I will make your name great. We all want to be great. When we are great, then comes respect and honor; many people will love us. we want to be respected, honored, and loved. When people ignore us or despise us, we feel so angry!! Being great is what all humans want. But the question is, How can we be really great?” During high school, some people struggled hard to be great, doing many crazy things. How did they look? So weird! We don’t’ use the word, great for them, but instead, we use the word, silly, or idiot. Still, people struggle to be great in the world by getting degrees and certificates, by being successful, by occupying high positions and titles. But these things just decorate them; they do not make anyone great. How can we be really great? God says, will make your name great. When we just do what God wants us to do, He will make us great. When God makes us great, we are really great. So, our struggle is not to pursue greatness, but to do what God wants us to do. That is our struggle. Sometimes, in order to do what God wants us to do, we have to deny ourselves, sometimes, we have to surrender, sometimes, we have to submit; sometimes, we do what we don’t want to do only because of God – that’s how God’s people live their lives. Then it is God who makes us really great. When God sees we are ready, at the right time, God begins to exalt us highly, revealing us as His servants. Everyone can see that we are really servants of God, and people show real respect, honor, and love. Then, when they have new sons and daughters, they want to name them after us – first name, Sam, middle name Flores, and their own last name. If you live as God’s covenant person, God will make your name great.

 

God says, You will be a blessing. A blessing means a source of blessing. So wherever you go, people are blessed. At your work, people are blessed. In your home, in the church, at school – when others see you, they are so happy. Because of you, the environment changes. Because of you, conflicts cease. Broken relationships are mended. Wounds and scars are healed. They begin to smile and laugh, instead of fighting. Their life changes because of you. Isn’t that what we want? When we show up, their faces light up and they are so happy because of you. Being a blessing - this is all people’s real desire. We want to be a blessing. But on the contrary, so many people live as a source of trouble and headache. When they show up, people suffer and want to avoid them. When we lived as our own men or women, we were not a blessing, but now we have become a blessing because of God! Now this is what God wants to do with us continually. It’s good to live as God’s covenant person. 

 

God also says, All peoples on earth will be blessed through you. This was what God was planning when He called one manAbram. So, in God’s eyes, Abram was not just one person, but God was seeing all peoples on earth through him. God had indeed, great hope and vision for Abram. God called you and you live as God’s covenant person; God wants to do the work of blessing through you. The boundary or range of God’s blessing is not limited to your family or your friends or your school, but extends to the entire world. That’s what God wants to do with you. So, never settle with small things such as job, or family, even one school. Instead, accept God’s grand vision for you and pursue it. What a glorious person you will be if you live up to this vision of God! God can pour out His blessing on the whole world because of you. 

 

God says, I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse. This is the promise of alliance. It did not matter whether Abram was at fault or not. If anyone attacked Abram, God would consider that person His enemy and attack him. They might say, It’s Abram’s fault! God would say, I don’t care. If anyone showed favor on Abram, God would consider him His friend and show him blessing. If anyone liked Abram, God would like them. Do you like Abram? Yeah! Then God likes you! When we live as God’s covenant people, when we do what God wants us to do, we are not alone. God is with us. 

 

Fourth, So Abram left (4-9). Look at verse 4. Let’s read this verse together:

 

So Abram left, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy five years old when he set out from Haran.

 

 

When God offered him his deal, Abram checked it out, and, it sounded pretty good! So he accepted it, packed everything, and left his country, his people and his father’s household. Then, Lot, his nephew Lot also checked out the deal and joined in. Sohe also became God’s covenant person. This is what has happened to many people. Sometimes our family members or friends saw how we were changed; they wanted to check outwhat’s going on; they came to church, or studied the Bible with us. Then, they liked the deal and joined in, growing up as great servants of God. Jesus says, Whoever comes to me, I will never drive away. (Jn 6:37) He accepts anyone who comes to Him. 

 

Look at verses5 and 6. From Haran, modern day Syria, Abram set out for the land of Canaan. He passed Galilee area, then, he came to Samaria area. And he found that the land was already occupied by the Canaanites. When Abram accepted the deal and left everything, he probably expected that things would go very well in the promised land, because he made such a huge decision to give up his comfortable life, his career, his friends, and even his family members. But when he came to the promised land, it was already occupied. He had to live as an alien. The idea of becoming God’s covenant person, becoming a blessing, being great was good, but the reality was very challenging. Now in the mission field, he had live in a studio apartment, having 2 minimum wage jobs, working 16 hours a day. It was challenging. But at that time, God appeared to him and said, To your offspring I will give this land. God confirmed that the land would be given to his descendants. God’s promised land for Abram was specified. How did Abram respond? Look at verse 7. Let’s read this verse together:

 

The LORD appeared to Abram and said, To your offspring I will give this land. So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him.

 

He was so happy and thankful that he built an altar to the LORD. But here, the following description, to the LORD, who had appeared to him, is very interesting. He built an altar to the Lord, not because God specified the promised land, but because God had appeared to him in the land. God had appeared to him and comforted him, when he was all alone, struggling in a foreign land. Abram was so touched because he saw that the Lord was with him. This is how God touched us also. When we are sad, when we feel lonely or depressed, when we had great difficulties, God appeared to us and comforted us, sometimes, through his words, sometimes, through some events, or sometimes through his servants. At that time, we saw God’s hands, and we were very touched; we were so happy and thankful, and we made a history of it by writing a deep testimony with tears and snots. 

 

Look at verses 8 and 9. Let’s read these verses together:

 

From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. Then Abram set out and continued toward the Negev.

 

He had been in the Samaria region, and then he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. This is still Samaria area! What was he doing there? Since God promised him that he would give him this land, he was checking it out. Then, how was it? It was so good! So, right there, he built another altar and there, he called on the name of the Lord, thanking God and praising God. He was full of spirit. Then, after that, he traveled down south, passed Jerusalem area, and then, went to the Negev, the south end of the land, the wilderness area. He was so thankful for God’s promise of the land that he wanted to explore the whole land completely. Indeed, he was full of spirit. Sometimes we’re like that; when God’s vision was so clear, when we were so happy and thankful, we dedicated ourselves to God’s mission completely – fishing all day long, 10 hours no problem! Abram was like that. 

 

When God wanted to save the whole world, he started his salvation plan by calling one senior citizen named Abram. God was seeing all peoples on earth through this one man – you will be a blessing; all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. This is the hope of God, the vision of God for each of us. In this hope, he calls us to enter the covenant relationship with Him. Let’s accept God’s calling and live as God’s covenant people, as a blessing for many.

 

One Word: You Will Be A Blessing!

 

Sunday, October 20, 2019

posted Oct 20, 2019, 7:56 PM by Site Administrator

THE TOWER OF BABEL

 

Genesis 10:1-11:9 

Key Verse 11:9

 

That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

 

We all want to know our origin. When I was young, I heard that we Koreans came from Siberia. Then, I wondered, thinking,“What about before that?” Certainly, people cannot pop up in Siberia out of nowhere. There should be an origin. But no one gave me the answer, and no one talked about that either – simply, it was something no one knew about. Then, I became a Christian, and I understood that I was from God. Wow! That was great revelation. Then, I learned that after the flood, my ancestors travelled from the Middle East. So, I was happy. Knowing this origin is important; it is like knowing the root of our people. Today’s passage gives us some more details of how all peoples on earth were scattered over the surface of the earth after Noah’s flood. Let’s check out this passage and learn where our people came to settle in our lands.

 

First, The account of Shem, Ham and Japheth (10:1-32). Genesis chapter 10 describes the spread of the descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth, the three sons of Noah. The expression in verse 5each with its own language shows that what Genesis 10 records was the event that happened after the tower of Babel when God had confused their language, as recorded in Genesis 11. But Genesis 10 is inserted here to show how the nations were formed by the descendants of Noah. So, this chapter is the conclusion of the life of Noah and his sons. They spread out into their territories by clans and nations, each according to his own language. When these descendants of Noah spread, the places where they settled were called by their names - they are found in some of country names, or names for towns or villages. Now about four thousand years later, the names of those places may have been changed, but still maintaining some traces of the original names, and with some hints in the Bible and the records of other ancient documents, we can specify some of those places. 

 

Verses 2 through 5 talks about Japheth’s descendants. Verse 2 reads: The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and Tiras. So, 7 sons. Wait a minute! Japheth lived about 600 years, yet he only had 7 sons!? It must not be. Since they were only a small number of people in the whole world, they tried to have children as many as possible. We see in verse 25 that Eber had two sons – Peleg and Joktan, but Genesis 11:17 writes: And after he became the father of Peleg, Eber lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters. But not all the sons and daughters were recorded, but only 2 sons were recorded, because these two sons were important and carried significance in God’s eyes. In the same way, Japheth had many sons and daughters, maybe, several hundred of them, but only 7 sons were recorded here, because they were influential or carried certain significance - Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech and TirasThere are several historic records that identify Tubal as Tobolsk, and Meshech as Moscow in Russia. Also, Gomer, Magog, Tubal, Meshech, and Togarmah (Gomer’s son) are mentioned in Ezekiel 38:2-6, which talks about the last war that will happen even after the Millennium. When Jesus comes again, the Antichrist’s government and all his allies will be destroyed. Then the Millennium will begin, when Jesus and his people will rule the world for 1,000 years from Jerusalem.During time, Satan is locked up in the Abyss, and thereby, people live under the rule of righteous people of Jesus, without temptation and hindrance of Satan; so, they enjoy wonderful life. Then, at the end of 1,000 years, Satan will be released for a short time and he will tempt the whole world to attack Jerusalem, the unwalled holy city. At that time, even after tasting the goodness of receiving rule from Jesus and his people, many countries will join in this rebellion. Magog, Gomer, Tubal, Meshech, Togarmah, Persia (modern day Iran), Cush (African countries), and Put will join with all their soldiers and God will burn them all. Then, God will make everything new – new heaven and new earth – new natural laws. In describing these nations’ rebellion, Ezekiel chapter 38, verse 6 gives us the geographical location of Togarmah, saying, Beth-Togarmahfrom the far north,… From Babylon where the prophet Ezekiel lived, the country far north is Russia. So, it seems that Russia will play the main role in the final war; scholars also suggest that Gomer, Gog, Magog are of Russia. But instead of pointing out one nation, Russia, the Bible identifies several groups of people - Gog, Magog, Tubal, Meshech, and Togarmah - showing that either Russia is of many different groups of people or in the last days, the vast land of Russia will be occupied by many countries.

 

Verse 3 mentions about 3 sons of Gomer – AshkenazRiphath and TogarmahAnd verse 4 mentions about 4 sons ofJavan – Elisha, Tarshish, the Kittim, and the Rodanim. The place, Tarshish appears in the Bible 24 times in 21 verses – in Genesis, 1,2 Chronicles, Esther, Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Jonah, usually, in the expression, ships of Tarshish, showing that Tarshish was a well-known port city. When the prophet Jonah was called to go to Nineveh, which was located in the east, or northeast, he went to Joppa and got on the ship that was headed to Tarshish. So, Tarshish was in the opposite direction of Nineveh from Israel. So, where was it? People say, Spain, some others says, Greece, and still others say, Britain. Another son, named Kittim is identified as Italy in Daniel 11:30 – so Kittim is the ancestor of Italian people. The Rodanim are the people of the island, called Rhodes in Greece. The book, titled, Scripture Geography, by Thomas B. Smiley, published in 1842, shows that ancient Bible scholars and historians such as St. Jerome, Eusebius, Isidore, and others agreed that the island Rhodes was originally peopled by the Rodanim. Acts 21:1 shows that in his journey to Rome, the apostle Paul dropped by this island. Historically, Rhodes was famous worldwide for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Today, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in EuropeThe name of the U.S. state of Rhode Island is thought to be based on this island. Verse 5 states that from these (meaning from the sons of Javan) the maritime peoples spread out into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with its own language. The maritime people were sailors or Vikings. So, the sons of Japheth were the ancestors of the European people: to the West and Northwest – Spain, Greece, Italy, Britain, Sweden, Norway, Netherlands, Denmark; to the North – Moscow, Tobolsk

 

Verses 6 through 20 describes Ham’s descendants. Among the descendants of Ham, the representative is Nimrod who established a kingdom (governmental system) for the first time in the world history. He was a mighty warrior before the LORD, excellent in hunting; probably, he solved many serious problems caused by wild animals in those days, and thereby, earned great fame and trust. Even there was a saying, Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD. If anyone was strong, that person was compared to Nimrod, and all great people's dream was to be like Nimrod. He was great. Thus, with many people following him with loyalty and obedience, he built his own kingdom. The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh in Shinar. Shinar was the very place where people rebelled against God by building a city and the tower of Babel - the very symbol of systematic rebellion against God. When people could not communicate with each other any longer, they left Shinar, looking for a proper place to settle. But Nimrod and his followers remained in Shinar, establishing the first empire in human history, showing that most likely, Nimrod was the ring leader in building the tower of Babel. Thus, the beginning of Babylonian rebellion against God, which will end in the last days as we see in Revelation chapters 17 and 18. (cf. Zech 5:6-11) Nimrod occupied Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh in Shinar and expanded his kingdom to Nineveh in Assyria. In the book of Numbers, we see Moses taking a Cushite woman as his wife, an African lady. This shows that Nimrod’s father Cush was an ancestor of African people. Ham’s son, Canaan was very fruitful and powerful that his descendants occupied the Palestine area. Thus, we see that Ham’s descendants occupied the Middle East and spread from there to the south, occupying Egypt and Africa. Many people think Ham was cursed by Noah. But actually, even if Ham did what was wrong, Noah did not curse Ham, but Canaan, one of his sons. Why did he do so? I don’t know, but that’s what Noah did, and God honored his words, and maybe, as a result, the Canaaniteslater were destroyed by Joshua and the Israel army during the conquest, and those who survived became the slaves to the Israel people. Thus, Noah’s curse on Canaan was fulfilled. Also, verse 14 shows us the origin of the Philistines – “Casluhites, the son of Mizraim, the son of Ham.” When we think about Nimrod staying in Shinar while all others left that place, we can see that Ham’s descendants were most popular and powerful among all Noah’s children. It seemed that God blessed Ham’s descendants a lot too.

 

Verses 21 through 31 talks about Shem’s descendants. Look at verse 21. Let’s read this verse together:

 

Sons were also born to Shem, whose older brother was Japheth; Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber.

 

Among the descendants of Shem, the representatives are the sons of Eber - Peleg and Joktan. In describing Shem's descendants, Genesis emphasizes the importance of the sons of Eber, saying, Shem was the ancestor of all the sons of Eber.From the name, Eber comes the title for Israel, Hebrew.When we read the Bible, we see the word, “Hebrew,” and wewonder where it came from. Some people suggest that the word, “Hebrew,” whose root word means, “to cross over,” describes Abraham crossing over the two rivers of the Euphrates and the Tigris to come to the promised land. But actually, that root wordfor “Hebrew” is “Eber,” which means, “to cross over,” or “to pass over,” or “the region beyond.” According to Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary, the word, Hebrew means an Eberite or simply descendant of Eber. The English translation of the Septuagint by Brenton, published in 1851 calls Eber as Heber.His name was “Heber” and his descendants were called, “Hebrews.” ERV (Easy-To-Read Version, published in 1987) describes Eber as the father of all the Hebrew people. And GNB (Good News Bible) published in 1976 by American Bible Society translates this expression as Shem was the ancestor of all the Hebrews. So, not only all Israel people, but also all the sons of Eber are called Hebrews. Eber had many sons, but two sons were important - Peleg and Joktan. Peleg, which means, division was named because during his time, the land was divided. Before this time, there was one big continent, called Pangea as many so called-intellectuals suggest. They say that this supercontinent Pangea existed about 300 million years ago, and it began to break apart about 175 million years ago. They say that even today, the continents are moving away from each other at the speed of maybe, 1 inch per year. They assume that the continents have moved at the same speed all the time, and based on that assumption, in order for 5 continents to be as far as today from one supercontinent, it took 175 million years. But that’s not the case. In the year Peleg was born, such a great event of Pangea being divided occurred; at that time, big earthquakes were there, and Pangea broke apart, and continents moved several miles per hour – it was such a huge event that when Eber had a new son that year, he named him Peleg, to remember this event. Through Peleg, God's redemption history would go. Abraham was of Peleg. But in describing the sons of Eber, Genesis chapter 10 does not mention about Peleg's descendants at all; instead, the whole description zeroes in on Joktan'sdescendants. Both Peleg and Joktan were important, but,because, since the Bible would talk about Peleg's descendants after this chapter all the way, and Joktan’s name would not appear there, it focuses on Joktan's descendants in this chapterJoktan had 13 sons, not just ordinary sons, but great and influential sons. He was really great. And the passage gives us a hint of where they went. Look at verse 30. Let’s read this verse together:

 

The region where they lived stretched from Mesha toward Sephar, in the eastern hill country.

 

The region Joktan's descendants lived stretched from Mesha toward Sephar, in the eastern hill country; while others went to West, North and South, they went to the east bound.From Turkey area, or from Babylon area, when we check out the world map, we see in the east, the Caucasus mountains – these areas were called eastern hill country. They went that way. And they stretched to Sephar. Based on many ancient documents and Asian history, we can say that Sephar is Siberia today. Until the 16th century, until the Russian Empire occupied Siberia, there was no name for Siberia in the world. But ancient Koreans called Siberia as “Sebar,” and later, it was called, Sibiri.” Joktan’s descendants stretched to Siberia. From there, they went southeast to Lake Baikal, the largest lake in the world. That Lake Baikal was one important place for them; maybe, they settled there for a while; some people just stayed there continually, becoming native people around Lake Baikal; some others traveled to the east continually, crossed over the Bering Sea (scholars say that, most likely, in those days, the Bering Sea did not exist, so they could go to Alaska on foot); then, those who settled there in Alaska became Eskimos; and those who came to North America became Native Americans. Still others continued to move and settled in South America, establishing civilizations like the Mayan and Aztec empires. Many of these peoples share a lot in common in their languages, looks, andcustoms. Still, some others, from Lake Baikal in modern day Russiawent southeast to Manchuria in Mongol, and then, reached to the east part of modern day China, where they established a kingdom in 2,333 B.C. When Joktan’s descendants came to that area, they carried the knowledge of God and of Genesis. They drew pictures of the events of Genesis to keep the knowledge of God, and these pictures, as time passed by, were simplified and became Chinese letters – that’s how some of Chinese letters contain the things that are recorded in Genesis chapters 1 through 9. They had also the constitution – 8 commands: one, Serve the one and only true God with all your heart and purity; one, respect the heaven with your heart and be close to your people; one, honor your father and mother; one, love and help one another; don’t accuse others falsely, and donot murder; one, men and women should be in peace with each other; don’t hate others; do not be jealous of others; do not be lustful; one, you must yield to each other and plow together; one, don’t hurt others by becoming rough and proud; do notsteal or take other’s things by force. The description of the 8 commands in an ancient Chinese book, called Sanhaekyung (山海經, written in about 220 B.C. in China) talks about 3 of 8 commands: One, a murderer shall be put to death; one, theperson who injured others shall compensate with crops; one, the person who stole from someone shall be a slave in that house. Very fair and just. 

 

While Joktan’s family left for Sephar, the other son of Eber, Peleg stayed in the Middle East; that’s why later, Abram about 200 years later, was found living in Ur of the Challdeans, an ancient Babylonian city, as an idol worshiper, losing his faith in God. As of Abram’s time, there were many of Peleg’s descendants living in that area, and some of them were really devout. Then, we can understand how all of sudden, Melchizedek, the priest of the Most High Godappeared in Genesis 14; most likely, he was of Peleg; and also, Job who wasthe contemporary of Abrahamost likely, was of Peleg too

 

So, now let’s sum up Genesis 10. From Turkey area or Babylon area where they built the tower of Babylon, Japheth descendants went to Western Europe, Northern Europe, and Moscow and Tobolsk. Ham’s descendants went to the south (Egypt and Africa), while the majority of them stayed in the Middle East, forming a great empire – this may be the Sumerian Kingdom. Shem’s descendants stayed in the Middle East, while Joktan’s descendants went to the east, to Siberia, Mongolia, the East part of China, and Korean Peninsula. That was the first movement. Then, as the population grew in number, they spread more widely. So, Japheth’ descendants covered all the European countries. Ham’s descendants and Shem’s descendants that had settled in the Middle East spread eastbound very quicklycovering Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and China.

 

Second, The tower of Babel (11:1-9). Genesis chapter 11 shows us why the descendants of Noah were scattered. After the great flood, people increased in number quickly. All of them used only one language – maybe, Hebrew, or English, or Korean. When they came to a plain in Shinar and settled there, they encouraged each other, saying, Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly. They used bricks instead of stones, and tar for mortar, showing that as of this time, they had developed some technology in construction. Then they said, Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth. Their slogan, their catchphrase was, Come, let us… meaning Together, or Unity, or Corporation. Their purpose in building this city and the tower was so that they might not be scattered over the face of the whole earth. They just wanted to stay together forever, without having any problems or conflicts or strife with each other in the society. Indeed, they wanted to build a wonderful city, utopia where they all would live happily ever after.  

 

But what was their true motive? They said, “Let us build ourselves a city.” Building a city is not wrong; even building a utopia where people can live in peace and unity forever is good. But the problem was, “ourselves,” meaning “without God involved.” They wanted to build a wonderful city, where they would live happily after all together, all by themselves, and there in the city, God had no place to stay; in this way, their true motive was to remove God’s name from their society and all by themselves, they would enjoy life freely, without being bothered by God. This was what they pursued nationwide, society-wide, all together, under the name of “Unity” or “Together.” That was real, systematic and society-wide rebellion against God. This is the true color of humanism – humans’ struggle to remove God from human society

 

Their slogan sounded really good - “Come, let us...” “Together.” And their purpose seemed good - building utopia where they would enjoy their life happily ever after with everyone together. But behind the scene, their true motive was to get rid of God's name and the knowledge of God from their society and build the society based on humans alone, and by humans and for humans. It was really terrible rebellion against God. I am not sure if all the people who worked together to build the city and the tower were aware of this true purpose, that was, rebellion against God; I think, they were not aware of it; only top leaders who came up with this kind of slogan, and who organized the whole society to build the tower knew what they were doing. Actually, human history is about this all the time - peoples' struggle to build an idealistic society where everyone can live happily ever after; with this idea, they try hard to come up with good sounding catchphrase, such as, “Global family,” “We are the world,” “Disease-free world,” and gather people together and pursue it in unity. Many naïve Christians, without knowing what’s really going on, volunteer in these things; even Christian churches support such movements, without knowing what these people really seek. We must not be deceived by humanism that comes with good sounding slogans; instead of standing on humans' side, we must stand on God's side, doing what God what God has been pursuing – God’s world redemption plan. Jesus says, “In this world, you will have trouble.” So, don’t think about building utopia in the world.Instead, in your entire life, just live as good soldiers of Christ Jesus. When Jesus comes again, true utopia will be established here on earth.

 

When they said, with a tower that reaches to heaven, they showed their confidence that they could do it. They were confident that if they worked together, they certainly would be able to build a city where they would all live happily ever after - they were confident that, if they worked together, they would build utopia on earth all by themselves without God involved; they didn't think that they needed God any longer

 

How did God respond to this worldwide and systematic rebellion against Him? Look at verses 6 and 7. The LORD said, If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other. God confused the language of the whole world. Suddenly, people could not communicate with each other any longer, and thereby, could not continue their work. So, they moved away with those who used the same language and were scattered over the face of the whole earth. It was really by God's grace upon them that, even if he knew their rebellion, he did not destroy them, but just stopped what they were doing by confusing their language. 

 

This is the conclusion of the first half of the book of Genesis. In this first half of Genesis, we have seen a great contrast between God's goodness and human's evilness that was revealed in each and every chapter. God is good all the time! But humans are bad all the time - Adam's disobedience, Cain's rebellion, the total corruption of the people of Noah's time, the systematic rebellion of the people in Shinar! But in love and hope for them, God bears with all man's wickedness continually, showing his goodness and love for them all the more. Today, the same thing is going on. People must stop their rebellion against God; now they must accept God's love for them and turn to Him in repentance and live as God's children. 

 

One Word:God’s Patience and God's Hope

 

 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

posted Oct 13, 2019, 5:39 PM by Site Administrator

THE FLOOD AND GOD'S COVENANT

 

Genesis 7:1-9:29

Key Verse 9:1

 

Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 

 

In the previous passage, we learned that the people of Noah’s time were corrupt to the core. They became worthless, and thus, invited God’s judgment. But Noah was different. He struggled hard to live according to God’s purpose. God was pleased with him and shared with him his plan of judgment on the land, and he instructed Noah to build an ark for him, his family and all the animals. In today’s passage, we see how God fulfilled what he said to Noah about his judgment. And we also see in this passage God's vision and hope for humans. 

 

First, Every living thing that moved on the earth perished (7:1-8:22). Look at 7:1. Now Noah successfully completed building the ark. It was huge – 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Its length was one and a half times longer than a football field, and it was taller than a five-story building. When the ark was completed, God told Noah, Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. This word of God was the best reward to Noah. He had worked so hard to obey God’s word and built the ark for about 60 or 70 years, or maximum 120 years. Who could understand the agonies, sorrows, or pains he had been through? But when God commended him saying, Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation, all pains and sorrows, which had scratched his heart, all memories of mistreatment from his neighbors, disappeared, and deep thanks filled his heart. God’s commendation to Noah was like saying, Well done, good and faithful servant! Come and share your master’s happiness. It was on the tenth day of the second month of the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, and seven days later, the rain would fall. During these seven days, pairs of animals and birds, and of all creatures that move along the ground, male and female, came to Noah and entered the ark as God commanded.

 

And verse 16 reads: Then the Lord shut him in. While the door of the ark was open, there was a chance for anyone to repent and enter the ark for salvation. There was hope and grace. But when the Lord shut the door, there was no one who could be saved except those who were in the ark. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 6:1-2, As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says, In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you. I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation. We must secure God’s salvation while we have a chance. Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. Once he shuts the door, no one can open it.  

 

Look at verse 11. Let’s read this verse together. In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month – on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.This verse indicates that at that time, not only did heavy rain fall on the earth, but also all the wells and spring waters of the ground burst forth. The expression, burst forth shows that great pressure was there just like geysers in Yellowstone National Park. Also, the fact that not just one or two or even some wells and springs, but all the springs and wells burst forthtells us that such great pressure was applied to all the wells and springs in the whole world. What could be the reason that the pressure increased greatly toward the waters underground? Maybe, magma under the ground expanding or pushing toward the surface of the ground?! If it is so, then, there must have been a lot of volcanos erupting in various places on the earth. As the underground waters came up to the surface of the earth, many sink holes appear, and as the water level rose, even many mountains collapsed, and great tsunamis occurred. Trees were uprooted, houses were destroyed, and all these debris were floating and attacking people in muddy waters. It was total chaos. The wind blew crazily like a hurricane, and thunder and lightning roared dreadfully. The entire world was completely dark – no sunlight, no moonlight, and no stars shining at all—the scene must have been dreadful beyond our imagination. People panicked, and out of fear, screamed for help, but there was none to hear them. Throughout this dreadful scene, the ark was floating over the surface of the water, traveling wherever the wind or waves led. But, despite the strong crazy wind and heavy rainfall, it never sank, and nothing harmed it, whether wind or water, rocks or trees, because Noah had built it according to God's blue print - it was designed for this occasion. The entire earth was completely covered with water, and there was no land exposed on the surface of the earth. Only after diving in to the water for more than twenty feet, you could barely touch the top of the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest. The waters flooded the earth for 150 days. 

 

What was the result of this dreadful flood? Let’s read verses 21 through 23 together. 

 

Every living thing that moved on the earth perished-- birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died. Every living thing on the face of the earth was wiped out; men and animals and the creatures that move along the ground and the birds of the air were wiped from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark.

 

Everything that moved on the earth perished – birds, livestock, wild animals, and all the creatures, except fish. All these three verses start with the word, Every, indicating that there was no exception. God never makes a mistake. God’s judgment was thorough, and no one could escape from His judgment. Those who blindly sought to gratify their sinful desires, those who visited the place where Noah was building the ark and ridiculed him saying, Fanatic! Crazy man!, they all together sank like lead into the depths of the water. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark. It seemed that all people were enjoying their lives to the full and Noah was suffering all the time, denying himself, and not enjoying any fun in the world. But when God’s judgment came, it was very clear who was foolish and who was wise. Noah was right, and his way of life was worthy in God’s eyes. In this way, Noah became an heir of righteousness through whom God’s plan on earth would continue. 

 

Noah’s flood is the foreshadow of God’s judgment that is coming. Jesus says in Luke 17:26-27, Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. Jesus here indicates that Noah’s flood is the foreshadow of the final judgment that is coming, and that the final judgment will come in the same pattern. During Noah’s time, until the judgment day, people enjoyed their own life, characterized in four ways – eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage. These were most important things in their lives. They didn’t know what’s going on until they were destroyed. Now we are waiting for God’s final judgment. How will it come? Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. While people are so busy-minded about eating better, drinking better, and pursuing marriage dreams, the final judgment will start, and even people will not notice that it is God’s judgment until they are really destroyed. Now God’s judgment is proclaimed; it is coming! How should we live our life? We must not live like the peoples of Noah’s time, just being concerned about eating well, drinking well, marrying well; instead, we must live like Noah, seeking God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, walking with God. The Bible says, “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.” (Rom 2:7-11) We must seek glory, honor and immortality, instead of being concerned about and seeking eating better, drinking better, marrying better, driving better cars, living in a bigger house. Sometimes, we are confused of which one is right; if that happens, just understand that you are tempted. At that time, see which way is self-seeking, and which way is seeking immortality. In a sense, we can describe our life as the life of building an ark for our salvation. God has given us his blueprint of how we must build the ark, which is the Bible. Let’s build the ark of salvation, a big one, by following God’s instructions carefully, not only for ourselves, but for many others. 

 

Second, Be fruitful and increase in number (8:1-9:17). After forty days of rainfall, the waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days. Now the springs of the deep and the floodgates of the heavens had been closed, and the rain had stopped falling from the sky. The sun shone brightly and the waters on the earth were sparkling. Instead of strong winds, a gentle breeze was blowing. Under the blue sky, only the ark was floating over the whole surface of the earth. Look at 8:1. But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. Since the whole earth was completely covered with water, there was no place for the water to go, and thereby, the ark would float on the water forever. Now, Noah and all the living creatures in the ark were completely stranded on the water - the ark had no direction to go and no destination to land. And there was nothing they could do, but just stay in the ark. But God remembered them and was concerned about them. So, He helped them by sending a wind over the earth, and the waters receded, and finally the ark came to rest on the top of Mount Ararat. People say that the waters became the ice at the North Pole and the South Pole.

 

The expression, God remembered Noah and all the creatures,... shows us God's deep concern for those who struggle to live for God. Sometimes, as we struggle to live as shepherds and Bible teachers, we feel stranded in the matter of school work, or job matter, or even sheep matter - without knowing what to do and how to solve the problems. At that time, we can be rest assured that God knows our situation and that He will certainly help us, sometimes, by sending the wind over the earth and changing the situation, making a way for us to go, or sometimes, opening a new door. God's eyes range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. 

 

Look at verse 20. On the 27th day of the second month in the following year, the earth was completely dry, and God asked them to come out of the ark. When Noah came out of the ark, the first thing he did was to build an altar and worship God. So many people, maybe, billions people died; the whole world was destroyed. But the first thing Noah did was to build an altar to the Lord and offer sacrifices on it, showing his deep respect, honor and thanks to God. That’s his attitude toward God, showing his heart toward God very well. At this, God was very pleased. The smell of the burnt offering was the pleasing aroma to Him. God accepted Noah and his offering. Then out of contentment, God said in his heart, Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done. God knew that man’s sin had not been removed by the flood. Even if the inclination of man's thoughts was only evil even from childhood, just like in the time of Noah, God decided that He would neither curse the ground nor destroy all the living creatures. There would be never such a global catastrophe that would destroy all the living on the earth. Maybe, a great earthquake occurs; or a nuclear war occurs; yet still, God confirmed that there would be no global destruction that would kill all the living on the earth. This comforts all the creatures on earth. These days, many Hollywood movies’ main theme is about this global catastrophe, either by nuclear wars, or by natural disaster, or by terrible viruses. But God confirms here that such a global catastrophe will never occur, even if some humans plan to do so. So, don’t be afraid. Don’t be so anxious.

 

Then, as the righteous Judge, how would God deal with man's sin? Not in the way He dealt with sin thus far - not in the way he dealt with Adam's sin, or Cain's sin, or even the sin of Noah's people. Even destroying the whole world would not solve man's sin problem. God was looking for a new way to deal with and solve man's sin problem, that was, to take away the sin of the world through the death of his Son Jesus Christ on the cross.

 

After the flood, everything changed greatly. The climate changed drastically. All creatures experienced sheer terror. NowGod would start all over again. So, He issued certain rules and regulations for the whole world, for all creatures, especially for humans, just in the same way He had established certain directions and rules for AdamLook at chapter 9, verse 1. Let's read this verse together:

 

Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. 

 

Just in the way He blessed Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28, now God blessed Noah and his sons with these commands: Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. Even after this great catastrophe, even when there were only Noah and his family on the whole earth, still God's original plan and vision for humans did not change. He was starting all over again with Noah and his family with the same vision and direction. This shows that the original plan of God for humans remains the same all the time. As children of God, we want to pioneer our campuses and establish Jesus' disciples. What is God's desire for us in this matter? God's blessing for us is this: Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. God wants us to be fruitful and increase in number. As we struggle to make disciples of college students, God will certainly help us and bless us to be exceedingly fruitful. 


God also reassigned humans as rulers over all the creatures - all the beasts of the earth, all the birds of the air, every creature that moves along the ground, all the fish of the sea, but this time, based on the fear and dread of humans that fell upon all the creatures. Even after the flood, even when human nature was corrupt a lot, still God's original plan for humans remained the same - He still desires that humans must be rulers over all his creation. This is what God wants us to do - live as rulers and conquerors over all the things. This is the kind of life God wants us to live - rulers, conquerors, challenging difficult situations and overcoming them.

 

God also gave them meat as food. God says in verse 3, Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. Not only fruits and vegetables, but also meat; not only meat, but also everything - locust, birds, fish, mussels,... The environment had changed drastically. Before, the earth was like a green house, with perfect weather; but then, after the flood, the environment had changed drastically – now as the ice was formed in the North Pole and the South Pole, as the cold air circulates, very cold winter would be there, or even ice-age would kick in. And the nature of the animals would change a lot. No one knew about such things. But God knew them, and was concerned about humans. In God’s eyes, it was necessary for humans to eat some meat to deal with all these things. So, he gave them meat as food. The expression, Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything, “everything” shows God's heart's desire for humans very well. He wants to give everything, every good thing to humans; God is willing to give us everything, and anything to make our lives enjoyable and fulfilling. This is God's heart's desire for you and for me. God is good for you and for me.  

 

In verses 4 through 6, God taught them to show respect to the lifeblood of any creature. They should not eat any meat with the lifeblood still in it. Even though all the animals, birds and fish were given them as food, it did not mean that they should deal with these creatures recklessly, such as killing them for fun, or eating any part of the animals right after hunting. Instead, in order to eat the meat, they must follow a certain procedure such as draining out the blood, and then, cooking. Killing anything that has the lifeblood is not a joke, even though they are given to us for food. We must show certain basic respect to them, because they are God’s creatures, just as we are.

 

Look at verse 9. Let’s read this verse together:

 

And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.

 

Here, God especially, taught them the value of human life. If any animal killed a human, God would demand an accounting from that animal for the lifeblood of the human; if any person killed another human, God would demand an accounting from that killer for the lifeblood of his fellow man. With this, God established capital punishment in human society, saying, Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man. That is God’s law that governs all humans. Because so many people, maybe, billions' people, died in a few months, people might think that human life was nothing. But that's not the case. Human life is valuable and priceless, because each person is made in God's image. If anyone ignores this point and kills others, such a person is not worth living in God's eyes. In this way, God taught Noah and his descendants to show respect to human life, and not only human life, but also all the creatures that had the lifeblood.

 

When we think about this carefully, we see that to God, each person is important; He values your life and my life. And in the same way He values it, He now teaches us that we must value others as well. There are 7.8 billons people; it seems no one cares about us. That’s why so many people feel lonely, meaningless, and thereby, they just give up, throwing themselves to the mud freely. But God cares for them. You are important to God, and God has a good plan for you.

 

Look at verses 9 through 11. Let's read these verses together:

 

I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.

 

Here, God established his covenant that never again would all life be cut off by the waters of a flood. And as the seal of his covenant, He twisted the physics a little bit, and let the rainbow appear in the clouds. There may be a terrible hurricane, but we can be rest assured that it will never be like Noah's flood. This covenant is not only with Noah or his descendants, but also with every living creature that was with him—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with Noah—every living creature on earth. This shows that God even was concerned about how scared and terrified all these animals, birds and living things on the earth were. He comfortedthem and gave them the confidence that they would not be destroyed that way any longer. What a tender Person our God is! He is even mindful of nameless and speechless animals, birds, and reptiles. Who can imagine that the Creator God initiated to establish his covenant with animals and birds to comfort them.He is a real Mystery. Indeed, our God is good.

 

Third, Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem (9:18-29). Noah had three sons - Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Japheth was the eldest, Shem the second, and Ham the youngest. Ham was the father of Canaan. Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent; it was Noah's big mistake. Ham saw his father's nakedness and told his two brothers outside about it. He gossiped about his father's shame. That was not good. No one would do so; instead, all the sons would keep it to themselves or even try to cover up their father's shame. If anyone gossiped about their father's shame, then, they would not leave that person alone; they would fight to protect their father's name. But Ham, instead, he gossiped about it. At this, Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father's nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father's nakedness. When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said, Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers. The descendants of Canaan were the Sidonites, Hittites, Jebusities, Amorites, Girgashites, Hivites, and many others – they were the ones Joshua conquered in Canaan. 

 

He also blessed Shem and Japheth. His blessing on Shem was: Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. Noah's blessing for Shem was that God would be the God of Shem. After this, God's redemption history would go through Shem's descendants, and the gospel of Salvation for all peoples on earth would be completed through Shem's descendants as well – the Israelites are Shem’s descendants; indeed, God would be known as the God of Shem. Noah blessed Japheth, saying, May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave. Japheth' descendants would occupy a large territory, enjoying prosperity. Japheth living in the tents of Shem means that his descendants would enjoy the benefits of the blessings given to Shem.

 

One of the Ten Commandments is to honor your father and mother. This is something we humans do naturally. According to God’s law for the Israel people, if anyone violates this command, in God’s eyes, that person is not worth living. So,God told them to kill anyone who attacked his father or mother. Whole townspeople would gather together and kill him by stones. Honoring father and mother is the most fundamental commandment; if this command is not kept, then, the whole society crumbles down. That’s why God commanded the whole townspeople to eliminate such danger together – public execution. Sometimes, we see people attacking their spiritual parents; or even sometimes, we see scandals of famous Pastors. When people hear such scandals of great servants, they gossip and judge them. But that’s not the right thing to do. When you see people gossip about other Pastors, don’t join with them; when you see others talk about your physical or spiritual parents’ shame, don’t join in them; or even when you see your parents’ shame, don’t gossip about it; instead, you just keep it to yourself, or even cover it. Sometimes, God decides to expose their shame; if it is so, then, let it be exposed. But make sure that it is exposed not through you. You like Shem and Japheth, cover it, instead of exposing it. Then, there will be always many rebellious people who have no fear of God. They will do the job, and your hands will be clean. And God will bless you.

 

After the flood Noah lived 350 years. Altogether, Noah lived 950 years, and then he died.

 

One Word: Be Fruitful and Increase In Number!

 

Sunday, October 6, 2019

posted Oct 6, 2019, 6:29 PM by Site Administrator

NOAH WALKED WITH GOD

 

Genesis 6:1-22

Key Verse 6:9

 

This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.

 

In the previous passage, we learned that Adams sin of disobedience passed onto his son Cain, and todays passage shows its continual spread throughout the world. People seemed to be enjoying sin freely, but when sin grew to the full, they had to face Gods judgment. Noahs flood shows the principle God used in his judgment, and it is a foreshadow of the final judgment that is still to come. We pray to learn to live like Noah in this generation. 

 

First, The sons of God married any of them they chose (1,2). Look at verses 1 and 2. Lets read these verses together: 

 

1When men began to increase in numbers on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 

 

Many people wonder about the expressions, the sons of God, and the daughters of men. They think that here, the sons of God refer to angels. But in that case, then, were they good angels or fallen angels? If they were good angels, how come they would have affairs with humans, disobeying Gods creation order? If they were fallen angels, how come they were called, the sons of God? This idea is nonsense. Such an idea of divine beings having affairs with humans comes from Greek and Roman mythology, not from the Bible. Here, sons of God refer to the descendants of Seth who maintained the knowledge of God, whereas the daughters of men refer to the descendants of Cain who lived without God. It seems that in those days, God-believing people were called the sons of God just in the same way, today, God-believing people are called, Christians. Adam and Eve had so many children, but the Bible sees them just into two lines of people - the descendants of Seth who maintained their relationship with God, and the descendants of Cain who did not. In Gods eyes, these two lines of people were completely different. The descendants of Cain were at best, no matter how successful they were, nothing but of humans - daughters of men. But the descendants of Seth were the sons of God, so awesome and great. These two lines of people increased in number continually until they covered the whole world. Evil spread through Cains descendants that the whole world became a very dangerous place for people to live; at the same time, the knowledge of God spread through Sethdescendants that many people came to worship God, calling on the name of the LORD. 

 

But as time passed by, a real problem began to occur in the community of the descendants of Seth. Some of them did not live up to their title, sons of God. Instead, they began to compromise and gave into their fleshly desires, especially, in the matter of their marriage. About how they married, two things stand out: The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful and they married any of them they chose. What God shows here is that they were wrong in doing these two things. But people wonder, thinking, Whats wrong in marrying that way? People, even Christians marry in that way! Thats why they come to church hoping to find a desirable marriage partner in the church. Again, we must notice that God shows here that Gods children marrying in that way is wrong. As we learned in Genesis chapter 2, originally, marriage was for God and by God; it was Gods divine institution for his purpose – we must marry for God and our marriage must be established by God. But these believers, instead of keeping their integrity as God-worshipers, didnt marry for God and by God, but they married for themselves and by themselves just like other humans; they saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Now all peoples on earth marry for themselves and by themselves, and this passage shows that such a trend began during the time of Noah. Before, the sons of God were concerned about the purpose of their marriage that they chose to marry for God and by Godmost likely choosing to marry among themselves, among the believers, being more concerned about Gods will and purpose in their marriage rather than their own preferences or their own desires. But during Noahs time, these believers compromised, and married anyone they chose, following their own desires based on outward appearance. In this way, marriage fell victim to peoples corruption; marriage was no longer for God and by God, but it became the means to gratify their fleshly desires. Once they compromised in their marriage, they came to compromise in many other things. Soon, they were no longer awesome and holy people, no longer the sons of God, but just like all others in the world. The sons of God lost their saltiness and thereby, could not function as salt, the preservative in the world any longer. Then, the whole world rotted and collapsed, inviting Gods judgment

 

Seth descendants kept their integrity as the sons of God for about 1400 years from Seth to Noahs time. Wow! They were really great people of God, indeed, they were the sons of God. Yet, this trend changed as they began to compromise in the matter of their marriage; later, they became worthless, losing all their greatness and holiness, thus inviting Gods judgment. Their failure shows us the importance of the marriage matter of God-believing people. Modern day, most Christians do not marry for God and by God, but for themselves and by themselves – this is the trend. There are many zealous young Christians who are willing to do everything for God; they are even willing to lay down their life for God; but they refuse to offer their marriage to God, saying, “I will marry the one I choose. Don’t bother!” Christians marriage never should be based on our ever-changing feelings and emotions. It should not be based on outward appearance or how attractive the other person looks. Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting. (Prov 31) Instead, Christians must uphold the truth of marriage that we must marry for God and by God. Indeed, it is Christians holy battle in this wicked and adulterous generation. When Christians do so, as their marriage is established not based on their ever changingfeelings and emotions, but on the rock foundation of Gods truth in Genesis, their family is strong and thereby can withstand all kinds of challenges in life. Then, no more broken families, and children can grow in sound and healthy environment, developing sound Christian characters and value system. Always remember how even those great believers, the sons of God failed!

 

We also see that the Bible blames the sons of God for the total corruption of Noahs generation - the sons of God, the believers, God-worshipers compromised, by giving into their fleshly desires in their marriage matter, losing their purity and saltiness, then, the whole world collapsed together with them.Jesus says of the believers, You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. (Mt 5:13) Unbelieving people anyway, go from bad to worse. There is no hope. But God-believing people must play the role of salt, the preservative. When God-worshipers keep their integrity, living a spiritual life, pursuing things of God, denying themselves, they bring great inspiration to the society, influencing people, being an example of how humans must live. At that time, due to their pure life and good influence to others, humanity is preserved, and society is sustained - they indeed play the role of salt, the preservative that keeps the world from total corruption. You are the salt of the earth. Your life of faith is important. You have great responsibility for the whole world. Dont compromise. Keep your saltiness. 

 

When brothers view of their marriage partner was only outward appearance, what then, did women do? They were greatly concerned about how they looked, and they struggled hard to look attractive. They worked hard, running miles and miles on tread mills, swimming in the pool, doing dietwearing thick make-ups; fitness centers were filled with women, running and sweating a lot; many fashion magazines were published, and plastic surgery was popular. They wore revealing clothes, always trying to flirt brothers, wearing all kinds of accessories. During the time of Isaiah the prophet, the women of Jerusalem were like them too. God said of them, The women of Zion are haughty, walking along with outstretched necks, flirting with their eyes, tripping along with mincing steps, with ornaments jingling on their ankles. When women were like this during the time of Noah, God punished the whole world with the flood. When women were like this during the time of Isaiah, God destroyed the whole nation and sent them to exile in Babylon. Now, how are the women of our generation? Certainly, worse than them! God-believing ladies should not be like them. Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting. But those women who fear the Lord will be praised. (Prov 31) Again, the real cause of this problem is the Christians who compromise, and give into their fleshly desires in their marriage matter - all the Christians who compromise are to be blamed.

 

Second, The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth (3-7). Look at verse 3. Lets read this verse together:

 

3Then the LORD said, My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.

 

The phrase contend with means plead a cause or fight. It shows that God had been fighting with the sons of God to keep them from going astray too much. When people were going to sin, he caused them a lot of troubles such as car accident or flat tire, or even terrible weather. When such things happened on their way to sin, people were alarmed, had the fear of God, and thus turned their way back home. But during Noahs time, people were completely corrupt and evil that even though God caused them a lot of troubles in their life of sin and tried to keep them from going astray too much, they did not care. Even after car accident or even with broken legs or arms, they went to sin, and did not take a warning of God. No matter what happened, they were totally determined to sin and do what was evil. So finally God decided to leave them alone, saying,My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal.The expression, for he is mortal, means that, people were so flesh-oriented that they were just like mortal animals; God was disgusted with them and did not want to do anything with them any longer. So, he left them alone to do whatever they wanted to do. We see the same expression in the book of Romans. Romans 1 reads: Since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. Then, comes all kinds of sins, including home-sexuality. 

 

The expression, his days will be a hundred twenty years,refers to the grace period God gave them. Even though God was disgusted with them, because they were not like humans any longer, but just like animals, God did not destroy them right away. Instead, he gave them 120 years grace period. During this whole time of grace period, God would suffer whenever he watched humans, because they were disgusting in his eyes.

 

Verse 4 gives us one more clue showing us what kind of society it was. Lets read this verse together:

 

4The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. 

 

This verse shows us who were heroes, who were famous. The Nephilim were gigantic tribe, of 7 feet, or 8 feet, or even 9 feet tall - they were warriors with strong muscles just like the Incredible Hulk. In Noahs days these strong muscle men and warriors were the heroes, and men of renown. They were praised and honored. When they paraded around the city, all the townspeople cheered, while women threw flowers on the ground and screamed. Hercules, Goliath! Look over here! Little boys’ dream was to be like one of them, powerful, brave and strong. All the boys struggled hard to work out in the gym and practicedmartial arts, shouting and screaming like Bruce Lee. Then, what about those with charming personality, or with great spirituality? They were not considered at all. 

 

When we apply the same standard to our society, we can measure the spiritual condition of our society. Who are famous? Who are renown? Movie stars, music stars, and sports stars - they have worldwide fame, making so much money; people are crazy for them. If they can hit the baseball well, if their music sounds cool, people dont care of whether these stars are of good character or bad character; whether they live sinful life or not, people dont care. In this way, the view of heroes or super-stars is just worldly and flesh-oriented. Certainly, our society is not that different than Noahs society. Dont value such things; dont live for such things. Dont conform to the pattern of this world. But be transformed by the renewing of your mind in Jesus Christ. (Rm 12;2) 

 

The result of this flesh-oriented society was really bad. Verse 5 reads: The Lord saw how great mans wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The expression is really strong: Every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. Everyone was like that. Then, what about when these evil people lived together, what kind of community had they formed? We really dont want to talk about it - so evil, so wicked. When you live in that kind of society, you cannot trust anyone; parents cannot send children to school by themselves; even sending them to school is unthinkable, because all the teachers there are evil, and all the children there are evil, and all the employees there from the principal to the genitor are evil; living in that kind of society itself is nothing but sheer misery; it is like living in hell. When they left God, they did not become better. Instead, each person became so wicked and evil that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. And their society was full of violence and everyone corrupted their ways. Their society was so bad and their life was so miserable. People were scared of possible crimes and violence that would reach them and their children. God made the world beautiful, but man made the world a difficult and dangerous place to live. Wherever there was no human being, there was peace and beauty. But wherever human beings were found, there was murder, evil and wickedness. Dont leave God; dont rebel against God. But accept Gods will upon your life and live the life of obeying Gods command. When things go according to Gods will in your life, you enjoy a delightful life.Otherwise, your inner person changes terribly that you become wicked, evil completely that you only think about, plan about and dream about terrible things, and your life among the same kind of people becomes miserable.

 

Look at verse 6. The Lord was grieved that he had made man on the earth and his heart was filled with pain. What an embarrassing statement this is! God did not regret that he had made cows. He did not regret that he had made sharks. He did not regret that he had made mosquitoes. But he regretted that He had made human beings. When man operated his life according to Gods original purpose, everything in the world went very well. God was so happy and satisfied that he said very proudly, Very good! But when man did not live according to Gods original purpose, he was a source of trouble for the whole world, and he messed up; he was like a wild, violent and wayward prince in a kingdom. Gods heart was filled with pain because of him. Because of humans, God became a suffering God with pains and sorrows in his heart. He endured pains and sorrows for about 120 years, instead of destroying them right away. God is love; in love, God endures pains and sorrows for the sake of people. But when sin reaches its limit, God judges. God decided to wipe all humans from the earth with the floodDo you want to make God so painful and regretful that He sent you into this world? Or do you want to make God happy and proud of you? Then, you know how you must live your life. Dont give into your sinful desire. Instead, do what is right in your day to day life. Dont compromise especially in your marriage matter. Instead, keep your integrity as the sons and daughters of God.

 

ThirdNoah walked with God (8-22). Look at verses 8 and 9. Lets read these verses together: 

 

8But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. 9This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.

 

Among all people, God found one person who had not compromised, but kept his integrity as a son of God - he didnfollow the trend of all other compromising believers. His name was Noah. When God found him, He must have been very impressed and happy with him. What kind of person was heVerse 9 is Noahs profile. He was a righteous man. Righteousness means right relationship with God. Even when all other believers compromised, by giving into their fleshly desires, Noah struggled hard to maintain right relationship with God. How? By doing what was right in Gods eyes, by livingaccording to Gods will and purpose. How did he look in the eyes of other compromising people? Too exclusive, too holy! Anyway, they really didnt like him, because whenever they saw him, they were reminded of their compromise and corruption; whenever they saw him, they felt condemned. So, they struggled hard to corrupt him also so that he might be one of them; they tried to persuade him, saying, It is okay to marry anyone you choose, or they tempted him, saying, After marrying unbelievers, you can evangelize them. But Noah refused to compromise; he refused to sin; instead, he pursued right relationship with God by doing what was right in Gods eyes. He was a righteous man.

 

When they failed to corrupt him, they dug him out to find fault with him, but they could not find anything wrong with him, in the matter of women and of money. He was blameless among the people of his time. Noah also walked with God. This expression shows Noahs struggle to do the things God wanted him to do. When there were many choices in regard to a job matter, he chose a job God wanted him to have so that he and God might be in the same direction; he married the one God wanted him to marry so that in the marriage matter, God and he would go in the same direction. In the matter of raising up children, he chose Gods way so that he and God might go in the same direction. Thus, he walked with God in his job matter, in his marriage matter, in his children matter, in his family matter, and in his business matter, in everything he did. That was his struggle and lifestyle. He walked with God. Other compromising believers lived their lives together with the world, valuing and pursuing what the world offeredhaving the same value system, hope and lifestyle the people of the world had - they walked with the world as the friends of the world. But Noah, instead of walking with the world, walked with God. He valued and desired what God valued, fighting against his flesh and living according to Gods purpose. While all others were like dead fish flowing down the stream, Noah was like live fish that was swimming hard against the flow. 

 

In that generation, Noah was the only person whom God could talk to, and have fellowship with, because Noah did not walk with the world, but with God. He was used by God so preciously. We want to enjoy fellowship with God – how glorious it is to talk to him and hear from him directly. We also want to be used by God for his salvation purpose. Then, we must walk with God, in our career matter, in our marriage matter, in our children matter, in our business matter – that should be our struggle as children of God today. Then, as we struggle to walk with God in our practical life that way, our value system, our desire, our hope for the future, and our lifestyle will be shaped up according to Gods desire and purpose for us, and we grow up as real children of God who can reveal Gods glory to the world. 

 

Noah also had three sons - Shem, Ham and Japheth. This means that Noah lived a normal life - he married, had children, and had a job or business to support his family. Being righteous, or being devoted to God does not mean that you should drop out of school, leave the society, go into a deep mountain and become a monk there; it does not mean that you must not marry as some humanistic people suggest. As Jesus disciples, we dedicate ourselves to Gods mission completely; as we do so, God, as He did in the beginning, pours out his blessings on us through marriage, family, and jobs. When Gods people are victorious, we all shout for joy, praising God.

 

In Gods eyes, Noah was like a star that was shinning so brightly in that dark generation. So God chose him to be his partner for his world redemption plan. He first informed Noah of his judgment, saying, I am going to put an end to all people…and told him to make an ark of cypress wood, giving him a detailed instructionThe ark would be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet high with a roof; it must be coated with pitch inside and out. Then, he said in verse 18, I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark – you and your sons and your wife and your sons wives with you. Do you want to be Gods partners in Gods redemption work? Do you want God to talk to you and share his plan with you? If you want to enjoy that kind of glorious fellowship with God, then, be like Noah! Pursue God and walk with Him!

 

How did Noah respond? Look at verse 22. Lets read this verse together:

 

Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

 

This sentence shows Noahs absolute obedience to Gods instruction in building the ark; he obeyed Gods instruction absolutely, and thereby, completed the ark. It was huge – 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. Its length was one and a half times longer than a football field, and it was about 5 story building height. The whole thing was completely hand-made by Noah and his family. Using mostly primitive tools such as axes or saws, they constructed this huge ark purely from cypress trees. We can tell that it was not an easy task for anyone to build this huge ship with their bare hands. The physical difficulties were indeed great. He had to use only cypress wood, so he must have built the ark in a mountain where there were many Cyprus trees. After cutting down the trees using an ax, he had to carry them all the way to the place where he was building the ark.After using all cypress trees there, he had to travel to another mountain, looking for them, cut them down and carry them all the way back to the mountain where the ark was being built.Without any machines or forklifts, it was an extremely difficult work. He must have been exhausted many times. Moreover, while he was building the ark, the news about him spread widely among the people. In the eyes of the people, a crazy senior citizen was building a huge ark in the mountain, preaching that the judgment time was approaching. Soon the place Noah was building the ark became a world famous sightseeing attraction, and everyday many people came in large groups, 50 by 50, 100 by 100. They laughed at him and ridiculed him. Noah and his family became a byword in that generation. Sometimes, they felt like monkeys in a zoo. Such social abuse was not easy to bear.Sometimes, other sons of God came to him and lectured him, saying, God is love. Never say that God is going to judge the world. Even if Noah had confidence in Gods will for him, Noah felt difficult when other believers kept bothering him this way. But overcoming all these difficulties, not only for one year or two years, but for 120 years, Noah kept his faith, obeyed Gods command and completed the ark. This is how Noah served Gods will in his generation.

 

When we think about Noahs struggle and obedience to Gods command, we are very comforted. In serving Gods work on our campuses, we too have many difficulties – physically, mentally, and sometimes, even spiritually. Jesus says that only those who love him obey his commands, while others make excuses and compromise. What great joy we will have, when God describes our life in the same way, saying, “John did everything just as God commanded him.” 

 

One Word: Noah Walked With God

 

 

Sunday, September 29, 2019

posted Sep 29, 2019, 4:14 PM by Site Administrator   [ updated Sep 29, 2019, 10:19 PM ]


CAIN AND ABEL

 

Genesis 4:1-5:32

Key Verse 4:7

 

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.

 

In the previous passage we learned about the fall of Adam, and Gods promise of redemption through the offspring of the woman. Despite mans sin, Gods love for man did not change. Right at the spot where mankind failed, God promised to send the Messiah to redeem and restore mankind to the original status. Todays passage shows us Gods love for Adams sons. Once sin started in mans life, it grew, affecting and changing mans life for worse, but still, Gods love did not change. May we open our hearts and accept Gods love for us through this passage. 

 

First, If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? (4:1-7). Look at verses 1 and 2. Adam and Eve lived about 1,000 years. In the book of Exodus, we see that 70 members of Jacobs family became about 2,000,000 people in 400 years in Egypt. I assume that Adam and Eves family grew much faster and much bigger than them, because they lived very long life, and death was very rare in that society. Among all of them, the Bible focuses on two persons as their representatives – Cain and Abel. When Cain was born, Eve thanked God saying, With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man. She was the one who had fallen in sin first, but she did not remain in guilty conscience. She did not torture herself out of guilty conscience. Instead, she accepted Gods love in giving her the garment of skin, and Gods promise that the Messiah would come from her. Due to the curse on her body, during childbearing and delivery of the baby, she had a lot of difficulties; but she prayed for Gods help, and after delivering the baby, she could see that by Gods help, she delivered her baby successfully. She was happy and thankful for Gods help and for the new born baby. Now Abel was a shepherd tending flocks, and Cain was a farmer working on the soil. Then, a time came for them to come to God with offerings. This shows that even after they were banished from the Garden of Eden, still God left the door open for them to come to him and have fellowship with him. They were not redeemed yet; there was no sacrifice system yet; their nature was corrupt; yet, still God allowed them to come to him. This is Gods real desire for us.

 

These children of Adam and Eve grew in the believing environment, hearing from their parents how great the Garden of Eden was, how pleasant it was to live in it, and what command God gave them, and how they failed to keep it. The day for them to come to God with offerings must have been a big day. Both Cain and Abel prepared their offerings and brought them to God. But on that day, something unexpected happened. God looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering, God did not look with favor. God accepted Abels offering, but He rejected Cains offering. It must have been a shocking event. 

 

Why did God treat them differently? This passage talks about what kind of offering they had brought to God. Abels offering was fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. Nowadays, fat is known unhealthy and worthless, but back in those days, fat was regarded most precious, tasty, and valuable; it was the best part. Also, Abels offering was from some of the firstborn of his flock. It meant that he set aside the firstborn animals for God, and then, he took for himself the next ones. His motto was, God first, and best things to God. The words, “first and best to God” shows his attitude toward God very well – his deep respect and honor to God. At the same time, they show his heart’s zealous love and thanks to God. Hebrews 11:4 talks about Abels offering, saying, By faith Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain did. In Gods eyes, it was a better offering; when God saw how wholeheartedly Abel was seeking Him, He was pleased with himso God accepted him and his offering gladly. But Cains offering was different. Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. His offering was not from the best ones or from the first crops, but some of the fruits of the soil, showing that his offering was simply so so. While Abels offering was hot and tasty in Gods eyes, Cains offering was cold and stale. His offering was not well prepared, and it showed his attitude toward God – there was no reverence, no trust, no thanks, and no hearts desire for God; it seemed that he brought offerings to God because he had a lot, or because he had toSo God did not accept him and his offering. 

 

Offering is an important part of our life before God. About 1/3 of all God’s laws in the five books of Moses are about offerings. It is something we naturally do as we acknowledge Him as our God, as our Creator; at the same time, it is a must, because no one should appear before God without an offering. Cain and Abel’s examples show us what kind of offerings we must bring to God – first and best, God says in the book of Malachi, A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If I am a father, where is the honor due me? If I am a master, where is the respect due me? (Mal 1:6) He also says, When you bring blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice crippled or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you? (Mal 1:8) The blind and defective animals were worthless; anyway, they would throw them away. They brought these worthless animals to God as their offering, and kept all good and valuable animals for themselves. They were contemptuous. God rebuked them saying, Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? We must bring our best to God, something very precious to us, something very important to us, not something we dont value that much. People say that they will serve God when they are old, after retirement, such as 70 years old. They want to use their prime time for themselveand give God what is leftover, what is worthless. People say, I will give up my dream of becoming the President of the USA for God. But they refuse to give up their career dream or marriage dream for God. They give God what is worthless to them, and keep what is valuable for themselves. People say that they will, rather die than denying God, but they refuse to bring one tenth offering to God with many excuses. To them, $20 in their pocket is very precious, but offering words of praise with their lips does not cost them anything. God is our Father; He is our Master. He is our Creator, and we must worship Him with all our hearts and souls and strength, by bringing all our best, and most valuable things to Him.

 

When God rejected Cain and his offering, Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast. In Gods eyes, something was wrong with Cain. But Cains response shows that, in his eyes, something was wrong with God in rejecting his offering. According to his idea, God should have accepted his offeringwith thanks. Why? Because he had worked hard to produce crops and brought such precious things to God. In his eyes, his hard work should be appreciated, but God did not appreciate it. When Cain was angry and his face was downcast, God could have been angry with him also. But God did not make an issue of his attitude at all. Instead, God gave him his counseling service. Look at verses 6 and 7. Lets read these verses together:

 

6Then the Lord said to Cain, Why are you so angry? Why is your face downcast? 7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.

 

Here we see another reason why God did not accept his offering. God said to himIf you do what is right, will you not be accepted? God did not accept his offering, simply because Cain had not done what was right in his day to day life. Right then, on the day he came to God with offerings, he looked nice like a good worshiper of God. But God knew how he had lived in his day to day life. He was like a Sunday Christian – during six days from Monday to Saturday, he lived a sinful life, doing all kinds of terrible and mischievous things, then, on Sunday, he changed his clothes, wore nice suit, and attended the worship service, singing hymns beautifully, and reading the Bible. God could not accept him and his offering, even if he came to the worship service, and even if he brought his offering to Him. If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?

 

Here, we learn an important lesson. God wants us to do what is right. Attending the worship service is good; bringing an offering to God is good. But more than that is doing what is right in our day to day life. Godpoint is very clear: If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? Yes, do what is right, and you will be accepted. As students, what is right for you to do? It is to study hard. Some naive Christians try to read the Bible even all night long, whenever finals come. They are not spiritual as they think; instead, they just avoid what they must do, because studying for finals is hard and painful - they are simply avoiding their own cross. Gods direction for them is very clear: Do what is right! After graduating from college, what should you do? Go and get a job and work hard to support yourselves and your family; be valid members of the society. Dont be scared of the competition in the society, because when you struggle hard to do what is right in obedience to Gods command, God will certainly help you. Do what is right! As shepherds and Bible teachers for college students, what is right for us to do? We must go, fish new students and teach them the Bible. When we try to do what is right for us, then, we find that we have several crosses to carry, because we have many titles - student or employee, son or daughter, husband or wife, father or mother, and campus evangelist. So what do we do? We struggle hard to take up all these crosses and follow Jesus as his disciples, using every flying minute effectively. At that time, we have Gods beautiful promise - God accepts us and all our offerings, because He is pleased with us. Do what is right! 

 

God’s words, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted” comfort us greatly. Sometimes, we feel guilty due to our sins or mistakes; sometimes, we groan deeply. Sometimes, we are discouraged because of our poor performance.  Sometimes, we are scared, thinking that God is angry with us. Yet, this is what God says, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?” God makes everything simple: He will accept you if you do what is right. So, dont worry about anything, just do what is right! Nothing to worry about, nothing to be scared of. Just strive to do what is right in your day to day life. Jesus says, “Whoever comes to me, I will never drive away.” (Jn 6:37)

 

And God said, If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door. Here, God shows us what happens to uswhen we dont do what is right. I am sure that you are not particularly sinful people. I am sure that you have good intention, good desire. But the problem is: Despite your good intention, if you dont do what is right in your day to day life, then, sin is crouching at your door like a lion, looking for a chance to attack you; and the minute you open the door, the minute you lower your guard, sin pounces on you and devours you, making you sinful. If you dont do what is right in your day to day life positivelythen simply it is a matter of time that you do what is sinful. This was what happened to Cain. When he did not do what was right in his day to day life, he ended up doing what was sinful – he lived a sinful life. Even if he was attendingthe worship service with his offerings, God saw everything and thereby, could not accept him.

 

Many people ask, How can I overcome my sinful nature? How can I live a good life? They cry out to God for help. What is Godanswer? What is Gods help? Gods counseling is this: If you dont do what is right, sin is crouching at your door. So, do what is right. When you struggle to do what is right, then, sin will not be crouching at your door; even, you will not have time to think about sinning. Do what is right in your day to day life, and you will live a sound life with sound heart. Then, certainly God will accept you. 

 

God also said to Cain, It desires to have you, but you must master it. Sin promises pleasures, satisfaction and fun. What sin promises sounds sweet, but God exposes here its real intention. Sins real intention is not to give you pleasures or fun, but to have you, meaning to make you its slaves so that it can control you to do whatever it desires. Many people see that their whole future will be gone if they continue to sinbut they cannot stop sinning; even if they can see that their family will be broken and everyone will suffer, they cannot stop sinning; even if they can see that they are going to hell, still they cannot stop sinning, because they are slaves to sin. Eventually, sin brings death - either they die prematurely, or they commit suicide, or they kill others, and after that, eternal death is waiting for them. This is sins desire. This is whats going on in our heart, because our nature is sinful - sin always is looking for a way to have us; this is the result of the first man, Adams sin. So, never give into the temptation of sin. 

 

And God gave him a clear direction about sin that was working in him, saying, You must master it. Who must master it? “You” must master it. Many people, when they pray for help about their sin, expect that, by God’s help, sin miraculously disappear from their hearts. Maybe, it can happen. But that’s not the way God shows. God’s direction in this matter is very clear: You must master it. Then, how? By doing what is right! Romans 8 reads: For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. Sin is working in us continually; it is our own nature. But we must not let our sinful nature control us; we must not let our sinful nature lead our life. Instead, we must put to death the misdeeds of the body by living according to the desire of the Holy Spirit, by doing what is right in our day to day life. Do what is right, then, you will overcome your sin, and God will accept you.

Second, The LORD God put a mark on Cain (4:8-15).When Cain received Gods personal counseling service, he should have been thankful and struggled to do what was right. He had to repent of his sinful life. But instead, at Gods counsel, he got really angry. He went out and defiantly did something more wicked than before. He said to his brother Abel, Let us go out to the field. And in the field, he attacked Abel and killed him, who was more righteous than he was. When he refused to repent, sin that had been crouching at the door, pounced on himand captured him as its loyal slave. He became an instrument of the devil and carried out the devils desire by killing his ownbrother. At the last supper, Judas Iscariot refused Jesus love to the end, then, he was captured by his sinful desire and became its loyal slave, and carried out the devils desire. If anyone refuses to submit himself to God, then, he actually submits himself to the devil to do the devil’s desire.

After the murder was done, God visited Cain and asked, Where is your brother Abel? Then, Cain replied, I dont know. Am I my brothers keeper? Even if Cain fed his anger by killing his own brother, it seemed that his anger did not subside; he was still angry, talking back to God. When Adam sinned, he was shameful and fearful, so he ran away and hid himself among the trees. But when Cain sinned, he became more rebellious and talked back to God. In this way, Adams sin of disobedience grew to Cains sin of rebellion. Do not sin, or it will grow in you continually. Look at verses 10 through 12. Lets read these verses together: 

 

10The LORD said, What have you done? Listen! Your brothers blood cries out to me from the ground. 11Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brothers blood from your hand. 12When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.

 

Finally, God exposed his sin, saying, What have you done? Listen! Your brothers blood cries out to me from the ground. What a scary statement this is! When one person is murdered, that persons blood cries out to God for justice. As the righteous Judge, God has to judge those murderers. God punished Cain. But his punishment was not about flogging him 100 times or locking him up for 100 years. Instead, God simply took him away from his present occupation, farming, and cut off his relationship with him completely. God would not let him work the ground any longer, because of Abels blood that fell on the ground by him. Also God would leave him severely alone. Until then, God tried to help him many times - He gave him a chance by not accepting him and his offering; then, he gave him his personal counseling service, showing him whats going on, and how he had been living his life, and what he should do. In this way, God had been wrestling with him to help him. But Cain rejected all Gods efforts; instead, the more God tried to help him, the worse Cain became. Finally, God decided that He would not bother him any longer; He would leave him severely alone whatsoever he did. That was Gods punishment.

We humans were created for Gods glory and Gods mission; the very meaning and purpose of our existence is God. But now, since Cain was disconnected from God, he no longer could find the meaning, purpose and fulfillment of his life in God. Then, he would struggle all the way to look for something that would give him the meaning, purpose and fulfillment of his life. But nothing in the world, no matter what he did, even if he married Miss Universe, and had 10 cute children, he could not find the meaning, purpose and fulfillment of his life. Throughout his whole life, he would live as a restless wanderer, looking for something that would give him the true fulfillment of his life, going from one thing to the next, only to be disappointed and feel meaningless. Thats what happens to everyone who is disconnected from God, the source of life.

 

At Gods punishment, Cain shared a strange testimony, saying, My punishment is more than I can bear.” What was God’s punishment on him? Not death sentence, not lifetime imprisonment, but basically, since he refused to be corrected, God would leave him alone. About that, he said, “My punishment is more than I can bear.” Why did he say this way? He said so, because he understood the nature of this punishment: He would be hidden from God’s presence, and as a result, he would be a restless wanderer on the earth. This punishment was so terrible that even an evil man like Cain was so troubled. Being disconnected from God is really terrible; living as a restless wanderer is really painful. Never harden your heart toward God; instead, accept God’s rebuke, repent quickly and do what is right. Cain also said, “Whoever finds me will kill me.He feared that, in the same way he killed his brother, he would be killed. When someone invited him, Hey Cain. Lets have jogging tomorrow morning. Then, Cain was shocked, saying, Why with me??!! When someone invited him to dinner, he was scared. He was the first mental patient in history, suffering from paranoia. When he was angry at God, when he talked back to God, when he did evil with a rebellious spirit, he looked bold. But he was not bold at all, but he was just a slave to his sin of anger. Inside, he was so fearful. There is no one who is bold in sinning. Look at verse 15. Lets read this verse together:

 

But the LORD said to him, Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over. Then, the LORDput a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. 

 

Practically speaking, Cain was a terrible criminal who did not show any hint of repentance. If Cain lived a long life, he would promote and spread more wickedness on the earth. Cain was a murderer, who did the first degree murder. It would be far better for the sake of the society that this kind of person wasremoved from the street as soon as possible. But God comforted and protected him by establishing a public law in regard to him, saying, “If anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then, God put a mark on him so that people might recognize who this man was, and thereby stay away from him.In this way, God protected him so that he might live a long life. Why did God do so? It was because of his love for him and his hope on him. God still hoped that Cain might come back to Him. He still hoped that if Cain lived a long life, he might have a chance to repent and come back to God. This mark was a token of his love and hope for Cain. With God as his own shepherd, Cain refused to repent or listen. Then, was there any hope for Cain to repent on his own without Gods help? Probably, only a slim possibility, if not zero percent. But still, God hoped. Love always hopes. This is the hope God has for all sinners. We can put our hope on anyone because God had hope even on Cain. In this hope, we were saved, and now are enjoying a new life.  

 

Third, Cains descendants and Seth descendants(4:16-5:32). Verses 16 and 17 shows us what kind of life Cain lived after being disconnected from God. He lived in a place called, Nod, which means, wandering. Even though he settled in that place, still his soul was wandering, looking for something that would give him the meaning, purpose and fulfillment of his life. He then, married, had a son, and built a city. Even building a house gives us a sense of achievement, then, what about building a whole city? It is about great achievement. And he named the city after his son. In this way, Cain struggled hard to find the meaning, purpose, and fulfillment of his life inachieving great things in the world, and even in his son. This is the characteristic of the descendants of Cain - struggling hard to find the meaning, purpose and fulfillment in the world, because they cannot find them in God.

 

Verses 18 through 24 mention about Cains descendants. The representatives of Cains descendants str Lamech and his children. Lamech married two wives - he was the first polygamist. He wrote a poem bragging about killing a young man for injuring him - he was like a mean gangster with mean look and angry eyes. His son Jabal became the father of all those who lived in tents and tended flocks. The expression, the father of something refers to a person who leaves a big footprint in a certain area. Before Jabal, there were many who tended flocks such as Abel. But Jabal dedicated himself to this occupation wholeheartedly and made a great success, turning this occupation into a great business; he had maybe, thousandsemployees under his care in this business, making big money. Then, so many others struggled hard to follow his example. In this way, because of him, huge industry was established; he wasthe father of all those who lived in tents and tended flocks. His brother Jubal became the father of all those who played the harp and flute. He was a musician. He dedicated himself to this hobby wholeheartedly, practicing all day long, and finally became excellent in playing the harp and flute that when he played them, people were so touched. So, whenever he had a concert, so many people flocked paying a lot of money for tickets; Jubal became very popular as a musician, receiving honor and making a lot of money. Since then, many music schools were established, and many people followed his example, trying to be world renown musicians. He became the father of those who played the harp and flute. Their half-brother Tubal-Cain was an engineer, forging all kinds of tools out of bronze and iron, developing great technology. Lamechs descendants were very successful, achieving great things in the world, developing great industry, music, and technology. In describing their life, the most outstanding things were what kind of jobs they had, how much money they had made, how successful and famous they were - these were the meaning and purpose of their life. They lived for these. They said, Music is my life. This business is my life. In this way, Cains descendants struggled hard to find something that would give them the meaning, purpose, and fulfillment of their life in the world, because they were disconnected from God. When people do not know God, they try to find the meaning of their life in these things - success, new discovery, new invention, their fame in the world, titles, and positions. They are Cains descendants. Lamechs poem in verses 23 and 24, conclusively shows us how the society was - the society without God was full of violence. Despite the development of industry, music and technology, despite the great achievements of Lamechsons, the society was very dangerous for people to live, and thereby, for their own protection, they had to carry weapons. And Lamech ridiculed Gods law established for Cain; in this way, they despised God, openly attacking God. This is how modern society goes, and how so many people live their lives; its all because they do not know God and are disconnected from God. They are Cains descendants.

 

Look at verses 25 and 26. Cain killed Abel, the line of righteousness. But God reestablished it through Seth. Chapter 5 describes the life of Seth descendants. They also must have had jobs or some of them tended flocks or enjoyed music. But the Bible never mentions about such things in describing the life of Seth descendants, because such things were not important or main point in their life. The most important thing was their relationship with God, which was revealed in their names (their names are all God-related) and how they served God. As we serve God, we too get jobs, do businesses, or do music or art; but such things are not the main point of our life - what kind of job we have, or how much money we make, or how successful we become as artists or musicians are all secondary. We need these things only to support our mission life, the life of serving God. The most important thing in our life is our relationship with God and how we serve Gods purpose. When Sethdescendants pursued the relationship with God, when they strived to serve God, one important key characteristic stood out: They lived very long life, about almost 1,000 years – this was true with them generation after generation. Do you want to live long life? Live as Seth descendants, seeking Gods kingdom and Gods righteousness.

 

The representatives of Seth descendants are Enosh, Enoch, and Noah. Enosh was the son of Seth, and during his time, men began to call on the name of the LORD. The statementmen began to call on the name of the LORD shows that during the time of Enosh, the atmosphere in the society had changed that calling on the name of the Lord became a kind of general consensus. The knowledge of God had spread widely in the society. Before, the worship of God was personal matter among Seths descendants, but during the time of Enoshthere were many churches and people had worship service every week. It was a great turnover. This shows what great influence Enosh had brought to the world. Through his evangelical work, people came to acknowledge God; they had the knowledge of God and began to pray in his name and worship Him in publicNow in our society, the situation goes the opposite – the laws and regulations that are against the Bible are established more and more, and peoples general consensus and lifestyles become more and more ungodly. In this situation, our desire is that the atmosphere in our society may change – for this, we struggle hard to teach the Bible on our campuses. How great it will be when it says, ECC students began to call on the name of the Lord in the time of Sam. The statement, “They began to call on the name of the Lord” then explains the nature of what we are doing as shepherds and shepherdesses on our campus very well. 

 

Enoch was Seth 5th generation – Seth great greatgrandson. He walked with God. This means that he carefully aligned his way, his direction, his life purpose and lifestyle to Gods will and purpose, doing what God wanted him to do, instead of living on his own, or going with the world. So, what did he do? The epistle of Jude shows that Enoch challenged the people of his time with the message of Gods judgment and repentance. Through his complete dedication to Gods work, Enoch pleased God so much that God did not want him to stay on the earth any longer, but in heaven together with him right away. So, while he was alive, God took him away from the earth, and, thereby, Enoch lived a short life - 365 years. When Noah, Seth eighth generation was born, his father saw Gods great vision in his life; so he prophesied that God would bring comfort to His people through Noah.

 

Through these representatives examples, we see how Sethdescendants lived their lives – seeking Gods kingdom work and the right relationship with Him. Then, we can see what we do as shepherds and shepherdesses on our campuses. Simply, we are walking in the footsteps of Seth descendants. IndeedSeth’descendants in our generation.

 

One Word: Do What Is Right

 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

posted Sep 22, 2019, 1:16 PM by Site Administrator

GOD PROMISED THE SEED OF REDEMPTION

 

Genesis 3:1-24

Key Verse 3:15 

 

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.

 

In the previous passage, we learned about God’s deep concern for man’s happiness. God loved the man and he provided everything he needed for his happiness – the Garden of Delight as his mansion, freedom, his words, his mission, and even a suitable helper. If Adam needed anything more, God would give him that too. In God’s Garden, Adam could enjoy a truly delightful life only if he lived according to God’s original design. But Alas! In today’s passage, we see Adam’s fall. When Adam ignored God’s command and disobeyed God’s will, things did not go as God originally had designed. As a result, Adam lost everything, and his life became chaotic. In today’s passage, we also hear God’s voice, the voice of a shepherd that calls for his lost sheep, Where are you? Today, let’s hear our shepherd’s voice and turn to Him. 

 

First, The transgression (1-6). Look at verse1. Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’? About the serpent, many people think that Satan disguised himself as a serpent. But then, it did not make sense that later God punished the reptile,snakes for this crime. Others say that Satan hypnotized the serpent. Again, then, it did not make sense that God punished the reptile, snakes for this crime. The clue the Bible offers is the serpent's crafty character - the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals. Many intelligent people think of themselves too highly; so they come up with certain ideas, suggestions and theories, which are too big for them to deal with, and end up serving Satan's desires, bringing great confusion and making so many people turn away from God; instead of letting their minds go so wild, they should have controlled their inner world, knowing what they can think of and what they must not think of. The serpent was crafty. The serpent tried to figure out God's intention in giving the tree and command. It was okay to think about God's intention; but the problem was that the serpent did not think of God's intention with absolute trust in God's goodness and love for humans - fundamental attitude toward the Creator God. The serpent didn't control its mind, but entertained all kinds of things, even negative ideas about God, entertaining doubt of God's love. Then, Satan had a chance to intervene and manipulate its mind, making the serpent draw a conclusion, which Satan desired. Then, the serpent struggled hard to convince the woman to accept itsunderstanding of God's intention, as if it was telling her a great secret - in that way, it pursued what Satan desired wholeheartedly - humans violating God's command. 

 

As God's creatures, we must approach God's command, God's will and God's Person, fundamentally, with absolute trust in God's goodness and love for us, just like children putting their trust in their parents, not to find some evil He might have in secret, but to find his beauty and to understand his love for us more and more. Don't be crafty like the serpent, like so many intellectuals who live as enemies of God - they become nothing but servants of Satan in destroying many people and sending them to hell. With freedom you have, live as children of God, knowing Him and loving Him more than ever. God gives you His commands so that you can enjoy a delightful life.

 

In approaching the woman, the serpent used the word of God, but not as it was. Since he had an ulterior purpose, he changed the word of God in the way he desired to serve his purpose, saying, Did God really say, You must not eat from any tree in the garden? By saying this, the serpent implied as if God had restricted them from doing anything in the garden, describing herlife miserably, planting doubt of God's intention in her heart. If anyone approaches you this way, describing God, God's people, God's church, God's mission, or anything of God in a negative way, be on your guard - behind the scene, there is Satan, trying to plant doubt of God's love and goodness in your heart. 

 

If anyone approaches you this way, implying that your parents have an ulterior purpose in telling you to study hard and not hang out with gangsters on the street, you would be mad, saying, Nonsense! Get out of here immediately and never talk to me. It seemed that the woman should be upset, rebuke the serpent, and kick it out, saying, What are you talking about? God has given us this entire Garden, and He made us the rulers. Never say like that. Get away! But instead, she entertained this kind of twisted conversation, saying, We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the Garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” In her response, she also used the word of God, but not exactly as it was; instead, she omitted freedom God gave herand emphasized the negative aspect of God's command, adding, 'You must not touch it.' When we think about her response carefully, we can see that she did not grasp why God gave her the command - it was for her happiness, for her protection. She did not know God’s good intention in giving her the command. As a result, her attitude to God's command was casual. Then, she was vulnerable. Her failure shows us the importance of grasping God’s real intention in giving us his commands. That’s why meditating on God’s words deeply to grasp God’s words really is the most essential for our Christian life. When you grasp God’s real intention in giving you his commands, there you are overjoyed – you are so happy and thankful, and keep them absolutely. Without grasping it, people keep God’s commands out of duty, going through the motion, no real joy, no real thanks and happiness, maybe, hoping to go to heaven not hell. Such Christian life is boring, and such people become nothing but Satan’s toys. No wonder why so many Christians’ life is chaotic and painful.

 

Also, we see that the woman did not appreciate all the blessings God had given her; instead, she took everything for granted. And she did not have a heart's zealous love for God - no personal heart's decision to love God, but she was just doing her duty. No wonder that Satan targeted on her.

 

When the serpent approached her with some hidden motive, she showed many weak spots. Then, the serpent did not miss the chance. The serpent said to her confidently, You will not surely die. At first, the serpent looked like a believer using the word of God, but now it revealed its true identity as an enemy of God. God said, When you eat of it, you will surely die. But now the serpent said, You will not surely die. And the serpent came up with his logic of why God told her not to eat the forbidden fruit, saying, For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. The serpent described as if God was tricking them with this command. At the same time, the serpent stirred up her desire to be like God. The serpent gave her a big promise, saying, You will be like God, which later turned out to be a big lie. Actually, being like God was Satan's own desire, and now Satan was planting his desire in her heart. Until this time, mankind had obeyed God and walked with him in beautiful fellowship in the garden. Creation order in the garden was kept by man’s obedience to God and everything went beautifully according to God's design. Now Satan was attempting to destroy everything there, by making the woman violate this spiritual order. 

 

Being like God, this is what Satan has used to destroy mankind all the time. When this desire of Satan is planted in people, they refuse to obey God, but do whatever they want. They reject any authority over them and say, It is my life! I want to do whatever I want. This way, they reject God’s word, and God’s authority over their lives, and thus, the creation order is broken. God said, When you eat of it, you will surely die. As they break God’s creation order, so they surely die. Also, people raise questions about God’s word, saying, Did God really say that we must not marry unbelievers? Did God really say we must deny ourselves and follow Jesus? Is that the only way? Then, they compromise, and later, they even deny God’s word openly, saying, You will not surely die. Thus, the world becomes corrupt, and people’s lives become miserable; they have lost paradise. This is what Satan is doing all the time.

 

Our heart is like the soil where either God’s desire or Satan’s desire can be planted; it is neutral. As we live here in the world, we receive the messages from the world, from Satan all the time, at school, through the internet, movies, at home, from our friends, and on the streets. So, we must study and meditate on the word of God more diligently, deeply until God’s desire is planted in us fully, until our value system, our future hope, vision, and daily lifestyle are fully shaped up according to God’s design so that we can live our life here on earth according to God’s plan and purpose. 

 

Look at verse 6. When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. After being tempted, suddenly forbidden fruit looked so mysteriously beautiful, good for food, pleasing to the eye, and even desirable for gaining wisdom. Actually, no fruit makes you really wise; no one thinks that way. Eating a lot cherries does not make you wise. But once she was tempted, it looked that way. So, she took some and ate it.  

 

She also gave some to her husband and he ate it. When the woman brought the forbidden fruit to him, how did Adam respond? Did he say, “Oh, the forbidden fruit. Thank you,” and eat it? I don’t think so. Instead, Adam must have been shocked, saying, “What!!! No! What have you done? Are you crazy?” He couldn’t believe what’s going on. Maybe, he rebuked her harshly;he tried to help her repent; maybe, that family had terrible argument over the matter for days. But the Bible does not mention about such things at all; instead, it talks about eventually what Adam did – he ate it. Eventually, Adam gave in, choosing his wife over God – that was his choice. At this, God was very hurt that later, he specifically mentioned about it – Adam choosing his wife over Him. In that situation, what should Adam have done? He should have stood on God’s side firmly absolutely, to the end! Then, the world history would have gone in a different direction. God wants us to stand on his side firmly in any circumstances. That’s why Jesus says, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” (Mt 10:37) Let’s choose God, because he is our Creator – everything came from him. Let’s love God alone!

 

Second, Where are you? (7-13). Look at verses 7 and 8. After eating the forbidden fruit, many things happened to them. Their eyes were opened toward good and evil. But they did not become like God as Satan had promised; instead, they became conscious of their nakedness and felt shameful, so they made coverings for themselves with fig leaves - when they sinned, their innocence was taken away - they lost innocence; their nature was corruptWhen they heard the sound of God, they were afraid of him, so they hid themselves among the trees in the garden. Before, they enjoyed fellowship with God freely, but now, they were afraid of God and they could not enjoy fellowship with Him; their relationship with God was broken, and they ran away from Him. Because of this fear of God, they could not serve God's mission any longer - they lost God's mission, which was the very purpose of their existence. Before, they were rulers over God's creatures, created in God's image, so awesome, cool, majestic and beautiful. But now, they became strange creatures, feeling so shameful and fearful, running away from God their Creator, and hiding among the trees - they were no longer awesome and glorious, but so silly and miserable. In this way, when they sinned, they lost their integrity as king and queen; they lost their true identity as humans created in God's image, and became strange. Everything was the same in the Garden of Eden, but once they sinned, they could not enjoy a delightful life at all; the Garden of Eden became their hiding place. They lost the delightful life God gave them in the Garden of Eden. When they sinned, they lost everything - their innocence, their integrity, their own beauty, their position as rulers, the meaning and purpose of their life, God's mission, andthe relationship with God. Later, as we see, even their own relationship was broken that they no longer loved each other; whenever Adam thought about how everything started from his wife, he was angry at her and blamed her for this crime. Sin is really terrible. This is the reason why we must not sin, but fight against it at any cost. Because of sin, people lose their purity and they no longer are the same innocent people; because of sin, people lose their bright future; because of sin, people lose their family; because of sin, people cause so much trouble to themselves and to others around them - no more praise-worthy people, but a source of trouble and headaches; because of sin, their conscience is bothered and they cannot be free to love God and pursue Him; because of sin, people become like animals, losing their true value, potential, integrity and beauty. And because of sin, they die physically and spiritually. Don't take sin lightly; don't compromise with sin, but fight against it as the matter of life and death.

 

Look at verse 9. Let’s read this verse together: 

 

But the Lord God called to the man, Where are you?

 

God was not asking where they were hiding because he could not find them. Rather, God was asking them to see what they had become. Where are you? Where should Adam be? He should be in the mission field working hard for God's kingdom purpose. But now where was Adam? He was hiding himself among the trees fearful and shameful. He should be a ruler, and God's missionary, glorious, powerful and beautiful. But because of his sin, he became a fearful fugitive running away from God. God wanted him to recognize his fallen condition and come out to him“Where are you?” This is Jesus’ message for many Christians. He says Revelation 3:5, Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. Where are you? This is the voice of the good shepherd, looking for his lost sheepWhere should we be at? As humans created in God's image and assigned to rule over the world, we must be awesome, cool, righteous, and holy, serving God's mission, rejoicing at him and seeking him. But people have lost their true identity because of their sins; they have lost their true integrity because of their love of money and greed; they have lost their beauty and value because of their lust. God sees how miserable they have become and looks for his lost people. When God says, Where are you? it is clear that He is not intending to condemn them and kill them for their sins; instead, he waits for them to recognize their lost condition, repent and turn to him; he wants to restore them. 

 

Third, He will crush your head (10-24). When God called the man, Where are you, Adam should have said, Lord, I am sorry. I sinned. Please, forgive me. But instead, he blamed his wife, saying, The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it. Then, the woman said, The serpent deceived me, and I ate. No one tried to take responsibility of what he or she had done. In this crime, four parties were involved - the serpent, Satan, the woman and the man, and the severity of their involvement was different. So, God, as the righteous judge, punished them one by one accordingly. Look at verses 14 and 15. Let's read these verses together: 

 

14So the LORD God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.

 

God’s curse upon the serpent has two parts: God's curse on the reptile, snakes, and God's curse on Satan who worked behind the scene. The snakes would crawl on their belly and eat dustIt seems that in the beginning, the snakes had legs, just like the Chinese dragon - snake's body with four legs. John Boos, who was a snake hunter in the ancient times, says that there are traces of the legs on snakes' body. The book of Revelation describes Satan as the great dragon-that ancient serpent, called the devil. (Rev. 12:9) Also, they say that the snakes come to be aware of the surrounding environment as they stick their tongues out in the air and taste dust.

 

God said, I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. God’s curse on Satan was that someday, a man would be born from a woman, and he would destroy Satan – he would be the Messiah for all people under Satan's rule, the Savior of the lost mankind. But Satan would fight him back, striking his heel, causing great pain to him - the woman's offspring would suffer a lot in destroying Satan. This prophecy is called, the pre-gospel. Since sin began with the woman, so the restoration would begin with the woman as well. This promise of God’s salvation through the woman’s offspring is the key theme that flows throughout the entire Bible. The Bible is about this offspring of the woman. Technically, in those days, the expression, woman's offspring was not possible, because, women were not considered at all, even not counted in the census - all people were men's offspring in those days and even todayBut there was one person in history that was born of a virgin, without a male involved; his name is Jesus - he is rightly titled as the woman's offspring. Jesus destroyed Satan through his death andresurrection. Jesus is the fulfillment of this promise of God.