Sunday, September 28, 2008

Genesis 21:3-5 Isaac Arrives -- Happy 100th Abraham!

Genesis 21:3-5: And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac. Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him. Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

I find the first sentence of this passage most interesting. It’s loaded with information that the author wants us to remember. First, that it was Abraham who was naming this child and no one else and he named his son, Isaac as God had told him to back in Genesis 17:19. Second, this was indeed his son. Third, it was a son born to him and no one else. And forth, the son came through Sarah, his wife, and no one else. Everything that God had promised had indeed come to pass.

The meaning of Isaac, you will remember was simply “he laughs”. More precisely, lexicographers tell us that the Hebrew meaning of the name Isaac is “one who laughs, mocks, sports, or toys with”. God had told Abraham that Isaac would be a continual reminder to him that he first laughed at what God had promised him.

Abraham circumcised his son Isaac at the appointed time. We first encountered the requirement of circumcision back in Genesis 17 where God promised Abraham that He would make him a father of many nations; his people would be given all the land of Canaan forever; and He would be their God. In return Abraham and those that came after him would keep the covenant of circumcision – that is each male child would be circumcised on his eighth day of life. And so Abraham keeps the covenant and circumcises Isaac on his eighth day of life.

That is one important way that faith lives on in a family, in a people – by practicing covenants made with God and keeping God’s commandments. It is important to realize that when we act righteously, not only are we doing the best thing under the circumstances, but also we are in essence keeping the faith alive. As we model God-ordained behavior, especially to the generation that comes after us, we are helping to preserve faith in our God.

Finally we note that Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born. What a birthday present for a centenarian. But again, nothing is impossible for our God who always keeps His promises.

We last looked at our timeline study (moving forwards from Genesis 1) when we were studying Genesis 17. Here is where we left off:

• 3257 Abraham was 86 when Hagar bore Ishmael to him (Gen. 16:16)
• 3270 Abraham was 99 when God appears to him (Gen. 17:1)

Now we can add one more date:

• 3271 Abraham was 100 when Sarah bore Isaac to him (Gen. 21:5)

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Genesis 21:1-2 God Acts On Schedule

Genesis 21:1-2: Then the Lord took note of Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had promised. So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him.

It is not certain whether the word “Then” at the beginning of verse 1 is actually the use of an adverb that depicts a meaning of ‘after everything in chapter 20 occurred, then what follows here occurred’. It may simply be that this “Then” is not a sequential adverb at all, but rather one that just takes the reader’s attention back to what God had promised to do for Sarah. For all we know, Sarah may have been pregnant at the time that Abimelech took her and the beauty in her that attracted him may have stemmed from the radiance that pregnancy often bestows upon an expectant mother. On the other hand, the very definitive phrase “So Sarah conceived” that starts off the second sentence in our passage seems to support the sequential interpretation – that is, that Sarah did not get pregnant until after the incident with Abimelech.

The important thing is that the Lord considered Sarah and did for her as He had promised. Sarah conceives and bares the aged Abraham a son. And here’s the bonus – the text says it all happened “at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him” about. Not only did God do what He said He would do. Not only was it a big surprise and out of the ordinary given both Abraham’s and Sarah’s ages. Not only were they forgiven for their wrongdoings. Not only did everything happen in God’s appointed time. But, it all took place just as God had said it would.

Here are the implications for us from these two short verses: God cares. God makes us promises (either directly or through His word). God keeps His promises. He can do the supernatural. He forgives our sins. He does things on His time. And if we listen, He often tells us what He will do. Abraham’s and Sarah’s God is your God and mine.

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Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Genesis 20:14-18 Abraham Prays for Abimelech

Genesis 20:14-18: Abimelech then took sheep and oxen and male and female servants, and gave them to Abraham, and restored his wife Sarah to him. And Abimelech said, “Behold, my land is before you; settle wherever you please.” And to Sarah he said, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver; behold, it is your vindication before all who are with you, and before all men you are cleared.” And Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his maids, so that they bore children. For the Lord had closed fast all the wombs of the household of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

This passage seems very familiar and it is. We came across similar action in Genesis 12:14-16 when Abraham (then called Abram) and Sarah (then called Sarai) traveled to Egypt and Pharaoh took Sarai into his house. For taking her, he gave Abram sheep and oxen and donkeys and male and female servants and female donkeys and camels. In the verses that preceded that account we learn that Abram asked Sarai to lie the same lie they utter in this current chapter. In the verses that followed the first account, God strikes Pharoah and his household with plagues and finally Abram and his family get escorted out of the area. You would have thought he had learned his lesson. Is it possible that the gifts that were bestowed upon him one way or another were so enticing that he didn’t mind lying again?

Abimelech acted even more generously than Pharoah did in the first account. He told Abraham he could live anywhere he wanted to in Abimelech’s kingdom. And then he went one step further and actually told Sarah that he gave Abraham (calling him her brother) a thousand pieces of silver. Undoubtedly, this was a very handsome sum for the day. Abimelech called this money “Sarah’s vindication”. Doing this, he was indicating that she was being cleared of any blame for what happened. Abimelech’s wisdom probably helped him to understand that as a wife, she had no real alternative in that culture to disobey her husband when Abraham asked her to lie for, and with, him.

By referring to Abraham as Sarah’s brother to her, he was either emphasizing the fact that whatever he did, he did so because he understood Abraham to be that, or he was simply trying to make Sarah feel less guilty about the fact that Abraham was also her husband, sticking with the half-brother explanation which was also true.

It is difficult to know exactly why Abimelech was showing such great kindness to Abraham and Sarah. It is possible it had to do with the fact that he wanted to somehow rid himself of any guilt associated with his actions or he wanted to make sure Abraham would pray for his healing and that of his household. There is no actual record of Abimelech asking Abraham to pray for him. In fact, in verse 7 of this chapter where God predicts what would happen, there is no instruction for Abimelech to ask for prayer. Abraham just did it.

Recently, I met with a friend of mine from my teen years. He now has a ministry in the Republic of South Africa providing training for non-government agencies as well as national church leaders. Chuck was visiting his children and grandchildren in the Toronto area and I was invited for lunch. During our visit, I shared that I had been diagnosed with colon cancer and that I was seeking God’s wisdom as to what type of treatment approach to pursue. When our visit was over, he asked if he could walk me to my car and I agreed. When we got there, he simply said, “Ken, let me pray for you as I sense my brother is struggling and wants God’s peace about his health.” We prayed together and said good-bye. Chuck is not an overly religious man by his own account, but he is a man of faith. Nobody asked him to pray for me that day except the Holy Spirit. That’s how God worked in Abraham to pray for Abimelech. And Abraham the liar, but still a man of God, obeyed God and showed Abimelech that kindness. And God answered that prayer. Abimelech and his wife and his maids all got healed and the women bore children.

This is the amazing story – Abraham sins, he gets showered with gifts and kindness, God uses him tremendously, and non-believers are blessed because of him. Abimelech was not free of the consequences of his sin simply because he righted the wrong. That was only step one. It took the prayers of a righteous man (regardless of his lie) to have God heal him and his household. What an amazing God we have. Do not let anyone tell you that you or anyone else is beyond the grace of God either to be saved by Him or to be used in His service once we have become His son or daughter.

Finally, we cannot ignore the last sentence in this passage. God had made Abimelech’s women barren “because of Sarah”. What are we to make of this? I believe the correct interpretation is that God had done this because of what Abimelech had planned to do with Sarah when he took her from Abraham. I prefer that interpretation to the one that may explain the reason for God’s actions being “for the sake of Sarah”. One thing we do know for sure is this – God did it. And He still has the ability to change circumstances beyond the possibilities we can think of in order to accomplish His plan for each of us. Do not dismay, God loves you and has a plan for your life that just may involve thwarting the plans of others.

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Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Genesis 20:8-13 Misleading Half Truths Still Lies!

Genesis 20:8-13: Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.” And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What have you encountered, that you have done this thing?” And Abraham said, “Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place; and they will kill me because of my wife. Besides, she actually is my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife; and it came about, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said to her, ‘This is the kindness which you will show to me: everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’”

Abimelech gets the word from God as to what he has to do and he acts. He summons Abraham and asks, “What have you done to me and my kingdom? How could you let me sin against you? How could you allow such a sin to be brought on me and my people through your lying?”

Now here’s the next line that I really like: “You have done to me things that ought not to be done.” What did Abimelech mean? Did he mean Abraham should not have lied to him? Did he mean Abraham should not have lied in such a way that allowed Abimelech to take Sarah not knowing she was Abraham’s wife? Did he mean he should not be sleeping with another man’s wife? We don’t know but we do know that all of the questions could be answered as follows. Abimelech should not have slept with Sarah and thankfully God did not allow it. That would have stemmed from the fact that Abraham should not have deceived Abimelech. And in turn that would not have happened if Abraham had not lied. We can always work backwards from our troubles to the basic sin causing them. In this case, it was the lie of Abraham.

But Abimelech probes a little further. As a king, it appears he was wise enough to know that Abraham must have had a reason for lying. He asks him, “What have you encountered that caused you to lie to me?” What are you afraid of Abraham? Did we treat you unfairly? Did we threaten you? Why did you lie?

And then Abraham’s response is rather lame. He tells Abimelech that he thought because Abimelech and his people were not worshippers of the true God, they would likely kill him in order to get his wife for themselves. Abraham does two things here worthy of note. First, he makes assumptions perhaps with some valid reasons, but no real proof. We need to be careful not to make such assumptions whether it be about circumstances or about people. We need to do our homework well and try to ascertain truth in all matters. That principle should be applied to all aspects of our life, including church life and how we deal with other believers.

The second thing that Abraham does here is that his primary concern is himself. He didn’t want to be killed. This wasn’t about Sarah or her protection. When we become selfish in our thoughts and actions, we always tend to make a mess of things especially for the number one person we care about most – ourself.

Then Abraham embarks on his own defense and justification that perhaps he had not really lied, for after all, Sarah he said, “actually is my sister.” Nice try Abraham, but she’s still you’re wife and the issue was not about whether Abimelech could have your sister, but that he could not have someone’s wife. And you knew that, Abraham.

And if that isn’t enough, Abraham tells Abimelech that he had planned this lie with Sarah so that she would support him in saying, “He is my brother.” Abraham was not only prepared to lie, but he got his wife to lie as well. It’s one thing for us to sin, it is somehow a graver offense I believe to cause someone else to sin. We need to be careful that we not cause others to sin because of our own selfishness or any other reason.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Genesis 20:4-7 Two-time liar called a prophet.

Genesis 20:4-7: Now Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, wilt Thou slay a nation, even though blameless? Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister?’ And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands have I done this.” Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now therefore restore the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you, and you will live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.”

God was with Sarah and Abimelech fortunately had not yet touched her. Still, he questioned God’s rationale in destroying a nation even though he was, in his opinion, blameless. What is interesting is that while God had said, “you’re a dead man” to Abimelech, as king he interpreted that to equate to the fact that God would destroy his entrie nation. It’s possible that he still remembered what God did to Sodom and Gomorrah. It’s also possible that kings equated themselves with their country and vice-versa way back then, just as they seemed to have done in the more later centuries.

In his defense, Abimelech attempts to prove his innocence by blaming Abraham for telling him that Sarah was his sister, not his wife. He also implicates Sarah by indicating she had said Abraham was her brother. There is no reason not to believe him as we’ll see soon below. Once again Sarah participated in a lie in order to save herself and Abraham, and ended up in more trouble. We humans have an incredible way of making things worse for ourselves when we do not pursue God’s way.

God then continues His conversation with Abimelech and here the text says “in the dream”. Because of the specific article ‘the’ as compared to using ‘a’, we can assume that Abimelech’s defense was also part of that same dream. Now the next two phrases are most interesting. As far as we know, Abimelech was not a worshipper of the true God. It is most likely that he and his nation were idol worshippers. Yet God said, “I know you were operating with integrity when you did this wrong. That’s why I kept you from sinning against Me.” These phrases may well give us a glimpse as to how God may treat those that have not clearly heard the Gospel. Whether He is dealing with believers or unbelievers, God seems to be most interested in our intentions and the condition of our hearts. If the heart is pure, God may well keep a person from sinning against Him and thus keeping him from destruction. At least, He did in Abimelech’s case.

The text is written to indicate that it was because of Abimelech’s heart that God didn’t allow him to sin against Him, and because He wouldn’t allow that, God kept him from touching Sarah. Once again, we see a God who not only cares enough to keep us from sinning, but also makes it possible for us not to in specific difficult or overwhelming circumstances.

However, there’s still a part for us to play. God told Abimelech to restore Abraham’s wife. In other words, correct the wrong, repair the damage to the extent possible. Sometimes, the milk is spilled and there’s no getting it back into the pitcher. But there is much to be done to clean up the mess – including apologies, asking for forgiveness, and sincere regretting, not to mention taking action not to repeat the sin. God was saying, “Look, I’m giving you another chance to make this right because of your heart. But you can’t keep on doing what you’re doing. If you do, you will surely die [we heard similar words uttered by God to Adam and Eve and in the garden of Eden], you and all who are yours.” The choice is clear. There is no alternative. The impact can be on far more individuals than just us.

Finally, and it’s so easy to miss this, God tells Abimelech something about Abraham that we would not expect Him to say about a two-time liar. He tells Abimelech that Abraham is a prophet who will pray for him and he will live as a result. How weird is that? I find this most amazing but once again it proves that God’s ways are not our ways. Did God miss the lie? I don’t think so. Does God still use and have a mission for people who sin? I think so. God will deal with the sin of the person directly, but it does not mean that all will be lost. Lastly, let is not miss the point that although God implies that if Abimelech does not return Sarah to Abraham he will die, He also says that by allowing Abraham to pray for him, he will live. Isn’t that how God works even today? What He does for someone is between that person and God Himself. But He uses the prayers of others towards that end. That’s why we pray for others. That’s why we pray for healing.

The day after I wrote this section, the elders of our church prayed for me and anointed me with oil in keeping with what the New Testament tells us to do if we are sick. Whether or not I will be healed is up to God. But we are told to invite and solicit the prayers of others on our behalf. I believe this account here is the first such instruction in scripture. And the honor goes to Abraham, with all his faults, because God had chosen him. This is also the first time that the word ‘pray’ is used in the sense of a prayer as compared to “I beseech you” (or ‘I pray you’). Somehow, prayer was introduced to the way we worshipped or spoke to God, perhaps modeled after what the heathens did to their idols.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Genesis 20:1-3 "You're a dead man, Abimelech!"

Genesis 20:1-3: Now Abraham journeyed from there toward the land of the Negev, and settled between Kadesh and Shur; then he sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is married.”

Our Genesis story now shifts back to the main character. We read that Abraham and at least Sarah his wife travel toward the land of the Negev, settling somewhere between Kadesh and Shur. We had heard of Negev twice before up to this point. In both chapters 12 and 13, when Abraham was first called to leave his country, we read that he traveled toward Negev and then from there to Bethel.

Kadesh was also referred to in Genesis 14 in reference to the battles of the various kings that are recorded and in Genesis 16 helping us locate the vicinity of the well where Hagar had a visit from the angel of the Lord. Shur likewise was referred to in chapter 16, again in reference to that same well.

From there the Bible says Abraham and his family ‘sojourned’ to Gerar. Sojourning when used in this case refers to a person who is a stranger deciding to stay awhile or tarry or abide in a particular place. Gerar was first introduced to us in Genesis 10 as part of the description of the land belonging to the Canaanites. It is translated as a “lodging place” and was actually a Philistine town south of Gaza and more modernly referred to as ‘Umm’.

What we do not know exactly is why Abraham left the area of Mamre where he had lived for some time and where God had promised that very soon his wife would have a child. In fact, Sarah’s pregnancy was probably quite evident at this point. Did he leave because he was terrified by what had happened to Sodom? Or was it that he was being persecuted and ridiculed himself as a result of Lot’s sin of incest? After all, they both had the same religion. We do not know why Abraham moved on at this time and the accounts we are about to read are not the greatest ones for our main man.

For some reason when Abraham arrived in Gerar, he felt he had to lie and state that his wife Sarah was his sister. But why? Was he trying to protect Sarah or was he trying to protect himself? And if so, how exactly? Is it also possible that he knew exactly what he was doing (since he had a similar experience in Genesis 12:13) and he had hoped to gain from it? And if that were the case, why didn’t he learn his lesson the last time? It appears that man is prone to repeat his sins especially when thrown unexpectedly into a very tempting circumstance because of the weakness of the flesh. While we need to be very cautious of such an occurrence and be prepared to stem it off, we can also realize that all is not lost and God still has a job for us to accomplish as part of His plan for mankind.

Yet Abraham’s twice repeated sin now put Sarah in grave danger as King Abimelech decides to take Abraham’s wife as part of his household with the ability to sleep with her as he wished. Why Abimelech took Sarah we do not know. Was it because he just made a habit of taking the wife of any stranger that came by? Or, was it because Sarah, even at the advanced age she was in, was indeed still a very strikingly beautiful woman? Whatever the reason, Abraham’s wife is now part of a foreign king’s harem and about to be forced to sleep with him.

And then once again that incredible, most hope bringing phrase in the entire Bible appears – “But God”! God Himself takes part in an unbeliever’s dream and speaks to him. And what He has to say is not gentle talk. When God warns or chastises, He does it in a way that make His feelings clearly known and void of any misunderstanding. “Abimelech, your’re a dead man if you sleep with this married woman!” And somehow, I believe I could hear the immediacy of the undesirable threat in God’s voice.

Abimelech’s actions warranted a visit by God in his dreams not because heathen kings had a practice of taking many wives to their bed but because God hates adultery, especially when His own people are involved. And even if they cannot prevent themselves from falling prey to it, He will often take necessary action working through others to stop the sin continuing or recurring. I am aware of one adulterous situation where I believe God stepped in and worked through the unbelieving party to prevent the Christian involved from ruining a family and taking irreparable action with respect to marriage and divorce. God worked in the conscious of the unbeliever causing them to admit their sin to their own spouse and expose the relationship. That individual’s marriage ended in divorce but God saved the marriage of the believer just in time. Somehow God got into the mind of the unbeliever and said, “you’re dead if you continue with this – you’re dealing with a married person and I hate adultery.”

This is the first time in the text that the word ‘dream’ is used. We should be aware that God can and does come to us in dreams and not only to His own people, but to unbelievers as we will see later in our story. The difficulty of course is that we cannot always discern whether or not a dream we believed came from God was indeed so. In this case, we have accepted the word of Scripture that God went to Abimelech in a “dream of the night”. But what about us? Was our dream really a dream from God? And what about all those charlatans out there who claim to have had dreams from God and somehow they manage to make millions of dollars off those dreams? The tragedy is that oftentimes our cynicism may dismiss the very means God chooses to communicate with us. Thankfully, there are ways to help us discern whether or not it is God speaking, most important of which is the fact that God would never contradict Himself or what He has told us in Scripture. Secondly, He will provide us with several sources of “confirming” information – either in our own life’s experiences or in the confidence of trusted Christian men and women who pour themselves into our lives. When God wants to speak to us, He will be clear and unequivocal. He is not a God of confusion and enigmas.

Our difficulty is not understanding what God wants to say to us. It is more often that we don’t readily accept what He wants to say or what He wants us to do.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Genesis 19:30-38 What a Difference A Night Makes

Genesis 19:30-38: And Lot went up from Zoar, and stayed in the mountains, and his two daughters with him; for he was afraid to stay in Zoar; and he stayed in a cave, he and his two daughters. Then the first-born said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is not a man on earth to come in to us after the manner of the earth. Come, let us make our father drink wine, and let us lie with him, that we may preserve our family through our father.” So they made their father drink wine that night, and the first-born went in and lay with her father; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. And it came about on the morrow, that the first-born said to the younger, “Behold, I lay last night with my father; let us make him drink wine tonight also; then you go in and lie with him, that we may preserve our family through our father.” So they made their father drink wine that night also, and the younger arose and lay with him; and he did not know when she lay down or when she arose. Thus both the daughters of Lot were with child by their father. And the first-born bore a son, and called his name Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. And as for the younger, she also bore a son, and called his name Ben-ammi; he is the father of the sons of Ammon to this day.

Here we have an interesting scenario. God tells lot to flee to the mountains and he requested special permission to go to Zoar. On his way there, his wife turns to a pillar of salt because of her disobedience and the next thing we know is that Lot leaves Zoar and heads to the mountains. God’s way is best after all. The text indicates that Lot left Zoar because he was afraid to stay there. It is possible that the locals might have started putting everything together and figured out that he had a part to play in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, albeit perhaps indirect, and they weren’t going to take any chances having him around alive. Little did they know that it was because of him that they were spared in the first place. Men, both believers and unbelievers, often miss the real reasons why God has blessed them. So Lot with his two daughters ends up living in a cave in the mountains. Perhaps not unlike what Osama Bin Laden has been doing since September 11, 2001 after the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington that killed almost 3,000 individuals that infamous day.

So what do two daughters of age living alone with their father in the mountains do to make life more interesting? They plot to have a child through their father Lot by getting him drunk and sleeping with him.

I struggle with this considerably. It would not be acceptable behavior in our society today and most likely frowned upon even then. However, and without appearing to be in support of Lot’s daughters in any way, we need to notice that this was not a spur of the moment “let’s get drunk and have a wild incestual orgy with our father” type of rationale that led them to take the action. The daughters realized that they lived near no other man, their father was getting on in age and soon would likely not be able to impregnate a woman any longer, and they needed a family and a purpose to continue their own life after that. The text says they said they did this in order to “preserve our family”. They also realized that what they wanted to do was an unnatural thing and thus something that could only be brought about while their father was under the influence of alcohol.

Here was Lot thinking he was having just a great old father-daughters evening after dinner drinking wine reminiscing perhaps about the good old days when mom was alive and all the while his daughters were getting him drunk in order to sleep with him. The text says, perhaps in Lot’s defense, “he did not know when (either of them) lay down or arose”. Perhaps then we can only fault him for allowing himself to get drunk. In any case, both daughters get pregnant in just one attempt each and they both ultimately bore sons. That, based on probability, is a spectacular occurrence in itself. The name of the eldest daughter’s son was Moab and the name of the younger daughter’s son was Ben-ammi. Moab was the father of the Moabites and Ben-ammi the father of the sons of Ammon. Hebrew lexicographers tell us that Moab is interpreted “of the father” given that the daughter bore her father a son. Ben-ammi is interpreted as “son of my people” as again this daughter bore him through ‘her own people’ and in this case, her father Lot.

We need to wait to see what became of these two sons and how at least one of them played a role in a lineage that was the most significant in the history of mankind. But for now let’s focus our attention on Lot. This is the last time we hear about him. No one knows how he really felt as the first recorded combined “father-grandfather” of two baby boys and later young men. Did he realize his sin? Did he even know the boys were his? I would think so as he and his daughters lived in constant hiding and fear and likely no one else every came near them.

As I think of Lot I think of the myriads of men and women whose lives are impacted so dramatically by one mere moment or night of sin; one mere relaxing of morals or standards; one mere giving in to the senses rather than to following the mind God gave us to do right and the soul that longs for Him.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Genesis 19:27-29 God Makes Good

Genesis 19:27-29: Now Abraham arose early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the Lord; and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the valley, and he saw, and behold, the smoke of the land ascended like the smoke of a furnace. Thus it came about, when God destroyed the cities of he valley, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when He overthrew the cities in which Lot lived.

We leave Lot abruptly in verse 26. His wife had just turned into a pillar of salt. And the scene shifts quickly back to our current main character, Abraham. The first thing we notice is that he arose early in the morning. Perhaps this was a habit of Abraham’s. There was nothing slothful about him. He was probably one of the first recorded “early to bed, early to rise” men in civilization. But he did not just get up early – he got up early with a purpose. Although we do not know if this was a habit of his, we know that this day he went to the place where he had stood before the Lord. Does it not make sense that when one knows God he/she wants to keep going back to the place where he/she last saw God or where they had the greatest interchange or experience with God? Oh, that it would be our desire each day to go where we have best experienced God and meet Him there.

Abraham looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and the rest of the cities in the valley that God had overthrown the day before. And the smoke was still rising as if the fire was still burning. What a sign for Abraham. God had said He was going to do something and once again He did it. Although the text says that “God remembered Abraham” in all of this by seeing to it that He saved Lot, Abraham’s nephew, and his family before He destroyed the valley, I think that Abraham also remembered God in a different way that day.

As I write these words, I can share with you that today was a particularly difficult day for me on two counts – one personal and one family-related. But I take great strength in the fact that God does what He says He will do. And I delight in meeting with Him alone daily. No matter what I am or will go through, I know He is there. Today as I listened to my medical specialist he reported that in my particular situation there were three things that determined whether a doctor recommends option A or B, and two of those indicated I should follow option B. When I got home my wife and I reviewed the mathematics a little differently. We calculated that one factor plus God indicates option A. That is what faith is all about. And Abraham was all about faith.

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Monday, September 01, 2008

Genesis 19:23-26 Finishing Well

Genesis 19:23-26: The sun had risen over the earth when Lot came to Zoar. Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. But his wife, from behind him, looked back; and she became a pillar of salt.

The day’s activities began back in verse 15 when the morning had dawn. It took Lot until about noon to plea his case for not escaping to the mountains and then to get to Zoar. It was only after he and his family safely arrived there that God commenced His destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The text says He rained down brimstone and fire from heaven. Those two cities along with all the others in the valley and their inhabitants and vegetation were completely destroyed save and except those in the city of Zoar including Lot, his two daughters, and his wife. God took them to safety.

And then man’s “But” comes once again into the picture. Though safety was hers to enjoy, Lot’s wife decided to give in to her human curiosity or desire or stubbornness and she disobeyed the command of God’s angels. She looked back, unbeknown to Lot, and she was swept away becoming a pillar of salt. Lot’s wife obeyed her husband, left Sodom, took refuge as allowed by God, but she did not finish well. She had the future she needed within her reach, but she did not hold on.

Many fail in the same way. We often hear of people who “had it all, but blew it”. As I face my seventh decade of life, my greatest fear is, that because of all the possibilities that are beyond my control – health, loss of a loved one, financial difficulty, relationship breakdown, etc. (all either my own or that of those I love), – I will lose it. I will turn to my own way just when I am so close to finishing with Him. Throughout modern history, the true Christian’s desire is to finish well. Lot’s wife has always served as a vivid reminder of our need to stay focused on Him who delivers us to the safety and life we need.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.