Category Archives: Genesis

Negotiate? [Pray?]

Genesis 18:25 Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” 

Did Abraham speak to reassure himself or God?
“The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous” the Lord chose to go and check it out for himself.  It’s personal for him.  “I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

It’s personal for Abraham too.  The fruit of the promise the Lord had given him long ago is in sight.  “…the Lord said to Abraham…I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”  Two of the guests had left for Sodom and Gomorrah but “Abraham remained standing before the Lord” to negotiate? [pray?] about how many righteous people it would take for the city to be spared.   His heart was filled with concern because now this would be his son’s future too. 

Did Abraham speak to reassure himself or God?
The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.” Fifty righteous people became 45, then 40, 30, 20 and finally  Abraham said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”  He [God] answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”  When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home” …to wait for the future. 

Did Abraham speak to reassure himself or God?
The answer to my question is “both.”  We negotiate? [pray?] to reassure ourselves and the Lord that we do care about the righteous and the unrighteous no matter how shortsighted our faith is as we wait for the future and wonder “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” 

The Next Episode

Genesis 4:8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.”  While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.  9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”  “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” 

What began in the garden of all creation became a soap opera story of the loss of promise along with the privilege and perfection of that first couple.  They both had the chance to stand face to face with God and admit what they’d done but Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent.  What they’d done just couldn’t be undone.  There was blame with lasting consequences and inestimable loss.

That first fruit had taken root and reproduced itself in a  deadly way in their second son.  Cain murdered his brother Abel.  Then he chose to disavow his guilt with the same technique the serpent had used to defy God and deceive his parents…deflection…the fruit of deceit. The simple use of one question to deflect another – “Am I my brother’s keeper?” The fruit of deceit would be the identifying mark on Cain for the rest of his life.  That identifying mark has lasted and the soap opera continues.

We are living in the next episode.  Life is our test of how we deal with real lies and real guilt in real lives.  We are the broken descendants of that first family but we do not have to be marked by that rotten fruit.  We can choose to be “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”  [Philippians 1:11 NIV]

Serpent’s Test

Genesis 3:1 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’?”  2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 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.’”  4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” [NIV]

“Did God really say…? [fill in the blank]  Isn’t this question the beginning of any test for a believer in God and a follower of Jesus Christ?  The problem isn’t the question itself.  The problem is desiring options that will give us the answer we’d rather have.

The woman had the truth from God.  She had the right answer but the problem was the serpent‘s test had a trick question: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”   Did you notice the crafty option in the serpent’s lie…the word “any?”  The serpent cleverly twisted reality from the one tree God warned them about to “any” tree.  One small lie was enough to become the fruit of doubt with the power to make desire a more palatable option than God’s truth.  Word’s matter!

Speak Up!

II Corinthians 4:13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.”  Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak,
AND
Genesis 11: 6 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. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

The II Corinthians passage led me to a deliberate search for what the Bible had to say about the words “spoken” and “speak” and that’s how I arrived at Genesis 11.  Genesis 11 is the story of Babel where God chose to confuse their words to deal with their desire for power.  God recognized there was such a powerful relationship between desire and words that “nothing they plan to do will be impossible.”  The story reads as if it’s only an act of suppression about words.  I think it’s more a lesson about the focus of desire.

When our focus as followers of Jesus Christ is our desire to raise our voices and plead with God to reveal his power contained in our words everything changes.  In the midst of all the confusing babel around us today we need to let our desire be God’s power.  That desire will give new power to our words and reveal the timeless truth of that same phrase “then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” Speak up!

Need

James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.

James mirror reference has reminded me of another important look in the mirror with another Bible friend, Rebekah, from June 12, 2015. That look in the mirror began with a very different emphasis: Genesis 27: 13 “Let his curses be on me, dear son. Just do what I tell you. Go out and get the goats.”

If you’re a parent those words “Just do what I tell you,” may seem very familiar.  This time though, they bring to mind how frustrated, manipulative and controlling they sound when I read Rebekah’s words…and they are.  I don’t know whether to be consoled by the realization that I am not alone having spoken them or appalled that I didn’t know any better when I uttered them.  It seems like a bit of both actually…the flesh and the Spirit locked in their lifelong struggle.

Rebekah is today’s Biblical looking glass for me to see the reality and opportunity found in her example.  These are lyrics to a song I wrote in bygone days.

In the mirror I see
Two eyes looking back at me.
Two eyes trying to see
A picture of what I can be.

That’s the flesh part and the reflection is not always pretty but my song goes on…

Won’t you picture God for me my friend?
Won’t you be my mirror when I pretend?
Won’t you help me to see?

That’s the Spirit part.  I can’t always see myself clearly.  The reality is there are times when only a friend can help me to see.

Some might say Rebekah is just an Old Testament character, long gone, but maybe she’s in the Bible to be that friend for me today.  A friend who has the ageless ability to show me how God works even when I’m at my manipulative worst…a Kingdom friend who says: “Look in that mirror once more and see what I’ve pictured for you.  This is what ‘not Godless but not Godly either’ can look like.  I’ve shown you my humanity so you can recognize it in yourself and choose something better.”

Epilogue:
Thank God for these Bible friends.  I need them.  I don’t always see the reflection of their faith I’d like when I look into the mirror with them but their lives consistently show me one of the most important aspects of my faith: the challenge of recognizing your need.  I’m not willing to settle for just being not Godless but not Godly either.  I need to look “intently into the perfect law that gives freedom [Jesus]” and continue in it. 

This Then…123 Thy Kingdom Come

2. Matthew 6:9 “This, then, is how you should pray:…
10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

1. Kingdom: the spiritual reign or authority of God
2. Will: expressing God’s desire, consent, or willingnes
3. Heaven and Earth: used to indicate the whole universe. Genesis 1:1

It’s tempting to ask “what went wrong” instead of praying “thy kingdom come.”  It’s easy to forget two kingdoms were created by your will Father, heaven AND earth.  Earth is not an act of creation that went awry.  The reality is you are still in charge!  We are your act of creation that went awry. That’s an uncomfortable reality.

We pray your words not because we’re perfect but because as imperfect as we are, we’re expressions of your will right here on earth.  Romans 8:12 reminds us we have an obligation to be evidence of your desire to reunite those two kingdoms.  Many of us now find ourselves with one foot in your heavenly kingdom and the other planted firmly here on earth. Who else would know what it means to live with the separation of those kingdoms?  We persist.  We pray for your reality…“thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”  

Practice…Authority and injury

I don’t know what I had in mind at the end of January when I wrote my list of word combinations to explore. I’ve spent hours thinking and reading many resources only to find myself back at the very beginning of time in Genesis when disobeying Authority first resulted in injury. That seems appropriate to remember on this first day of Lent.

Authority: the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience.
Genesis 2:16-17 But the Lord God gave the man this warning: “You may eat any fruit in the garden except fruit from the Tree of Conscience—for its fruit will open your eyes to make you aware of right and wrong, good and bad. If you eat its fruit, you will be doomed to die.” TLB

injury: hurt, damage, or loss sustained
Genesis 3:16 Then God said to the woman, “You shall bear children in intense pain and suffering; yet even so, you shall welcome your husband’s affections, and he shall be your master.”
17 And to Adam, God said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate the fruit when I told you not to, I have placed a curse upon the soil. All your life you will struggle to extract a living from it. 18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you, and you shall eat its grasses. 19 All your life you will sweat to master it, until your dying day. Then you will return to the ground from which you came. For you were made from the ground, and to the ground you will return.” TLB

God’s Response: Genesis 3:21 and the Lord God clothed Adam and his wife with garments made from skins of animals. TLB

The ultimate Authority  faced with the disobedience of his creation and the required consequences, chose to respond by providing garments to temporarily protect their lives because they would be separated from him.  His response was their heritage and ours…UNTIL… Galatians 3:25-27.

“But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor [the Law]. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”