Category Archives: Genesis

Image Bearers

Genesis 1:27
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.  28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…”  NIV

I’m sure you’re familiar with the triangle image of the Godhead where each of the three points represents one of the three persons; God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  It’s the image of life for those who, by accepting and acting in accordance with Jesus, have been placed securely within that Perfect Triangle.  My life is in that triangle.  So is yours.  Can you be thrilled by what a drawing can show you about how convincingly God can prove to you that your image really is just like His?  Yes!

A simple straight line beginning at one of those thee points and stretching across to an opposite line to establish a connection to that Perfect Triangle always results in a brand new triangle. Something visually  happened as I drew line after line always staying within the boundary lines of that Perfect Triangle.  As long as each straight line began at one of the, now multiple, points to an opposite line, it always became a triangle without my doing anything more.  Each triangle was a different size and had a different shape with different angles but every time I drew a straight line to make that connection three new “points” appeared. The triangles were not a perfect duplicate of the original but without a doubt they visually confirmed a likeness to that Perfect Triangle.

The creator of all mankind chose the simplest of all processes to replicate Himself in those who would be bearers of His image. The more I drew straight lines, the more I recognized how reliable that connection was.  Every one of those imperfect triangles began as a simple straight line but by God’s good purpose He chose to verify that likeness even further for His image bearers as each connection was completed. I saw those three replicated “points;” God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit, appear over and over as each line became a new triangle within the Perfect Triangle. That was the visual proof that thrilled me.  

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them;” God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit created within us, every time.  Yes!

 

Choose Dominion

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. 1 Chronicles 29:11 NASB

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Dominion and domination are very similar words in construction but neither word is commonly used today.  Hearing “dominate” be used in public reporting this last disturbing week was startling.  That made the other uncommon word “dominion” stand out when I read it as a Verse of the Day from 1 Chronicles in the same week.

Dominion is a descriptive noun used to identify God’s complete sovereignty and power to partner with His people to protect and preserve His creation.  “And God blessed them. “And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28 ESV
Domination is an action verb the Bible uses to indicate an exercise of power.  A very simple word sturdyof “domination” resulted in two conclusions: 1)The most important one was it was never God who was dominating and 2)  God’s displeasure at Israel’s opposition to His dominion was clear and the natural consequence of their rebellion was domination. 

In some places it’s “domination to, of or by” that represents God’s action to move Israel “to” repentance.  In other places the references were “delivered from domination” that represented God’s repeated rescue for Israel “from” those who would destroy them.  In all those places the Word reveals the same timeless truth of 1 Chronicles: God is still prepared to respond to repentance and deliver His people from the domination of an enemy.

“Yours is the dominion, O Lord,
and You exalt Yourself as head over all. 

Yet today’s attitudes tend more towards the domination idea.  Domination has undertones of manipulation, coercion, and force.  Bending the earth to our will, rather than working in a state of collaboration and cooperation.  Extracting what we want at the expense of others.  Not caring about the broader impacts of our actions…” currentcoach.com

There are only two choices: Dominion or Domination

ahttps://bible.knowing-jesus.com/words/Domination/type/isv

Heart-Breaking Headlines – Adultery and Murder

2 Samuel 11:1-5 It happened in the spring of the year, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the people of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.  Then it happened one evening that David arose from his bed and walked on the roof of the king’s house. And from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very beautiful to behold.  So David sent and inquired about the woman. And someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?”  Then David sent messengers, and took her; and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was cleansed from her impurity; and she returned to her house.  And the woman conceived; so she sent and told David, and said, “I am with child.” [NKJV] 

“While Joab is busy in laying siege to Rabbah, Satan is [laying seige] to David, and far sooner prevailed.” [Trapp]

God’s plan for marriage
The condition,1 the promise2 and the blessing.3

Genesis 2:24-25 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother.1 and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.2  And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.3
The reality of the relationship…Deuteronomy 17:17a  He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.
The evidence of accumulated sin…2Sa 3:2-5 Sons were born to David in Hebron: His firstborn was Amnon by Ahinoam the Jezreelitess;  his second, Chileab, by Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite; the third, Absalom the son of Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur;  the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital;  and the sixth, Ithream, by David’s wife Eglah. These were born to David in Hebron.

News flash! Deceit and cover up from a position of power are not new and the consequences of  sin are not normalized by repetition or by calling it by some gentler name.  How does a nation deal with the complete moral failure of its leader?  Consequences aren’t just a dismal surprise resulting from corrupt acts, they’re a given.  Heart-breaking consequences were the result for a whole family and a whole nation as a result of the accumulated sins of the very king who had captured God’s own heart.  Satan found a way to expose those accumulated sins into the tragic reality of consequences that included adultery, murder and death. 

Here’s the Good News from 2 Samuel this Sunday: God did provide for the king’s heart to remember the grace of repentance and restoration that could forgive accumulated sins even in the midst of heart-breaking circumstances.   That should sound familiar to our heart too.  God has provided for our hearts to remember the grace of repentance and restoration we have through the death of another child, His own Son.   Jesus,  is God’s provision for our hearts to find repentance and restoration in every circumstance. 

Contrasts that Complete

Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

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You know the story: Day 1: Light and darkness.  Day 2: Sky and water, Day 3: Land and sky.  Day 4: Day and Night.  Day 5:  Sea creatures and land creatures.  Day 6: Increase, His own image in man and woman, reproductive rights and responsibility.  Day 7: And at last rest.

God chose to highlight the universe He was creating by accenting the contrasts of each day. This is His world system: completeness built from contrasts that complete each other.  In the beginning there was only “sameness” and then God spoke all of these contrasts into being.  Clearly the method God has chosen for His creation to succeed is the ability to see each of those contrasts as part of His complete design. 

Today we are challenged by a world less concerned about completeness than it is with identifying contrasts that separate us.  The adversary’s god is the sameness that blurs the value of the contrasts God revealed.  Our challenge is to remember God chose contrasts, not sameness, to be the elements that would complete His creation and THAT is what He declared good.  

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.”